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1.  Characterization of Thermophilic Archaeal Isopentenyl Phosphate Kinases 
Biochemistry  2010;49(1):10.1021/bi9017957.
Archaea synthesize isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP), the essential building blocks of isoprenoid compounds, from mevalonate (MVA). However, an analysis of the genomes of several members of the Archaea failed to identify genes for the enzymes required to convert phosphomevalonate (PM) to IPP in Eukaryotes. The recent discovery of an isopentenyl kinase (IPK) in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (MJ) suggests a new variation of the MVA pathway where PM is decarboxylated to give isopentenyl phosphate (IP), which is phosphorylated to produce IPP. A blast search using the MJ protein as a probe revealed a subfamily of amino acid kinases that include the fosfomycin resistance protein fomA, which deactivates the antibiotic by phosphorylation of its phosphonate residue in a reaction similar to the conversion of IP to IPP. IPK genes were cloned from two organisms identified in the search, Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus (MTH) and Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA), and the His-tagged recombinant proteins were purified by Ni-NTA chromatography. The enzymes catalyze the reversible phosphorylation of IP by ATP, Keq = 6.3 ± 1. The catalytic efficiencies (V/K) of the proteins were ~2 × 106 M−1s−1. In the reverse direction, ADP was a substrate inhibitor for THA IPK, KiADP = 58 ± 6 µM but not for MTH IPK. Both enzymes were active over a broad range of pH and temperature. Five compounds, dimethylallyl phosphate, isopentenyl thiolophosphate, 1-butyl phosphate, 3-buten-1-yl phosphate, and geranyl phosphate, were evaluated as alternative substrate for the MTH and THA IP kinases. All of the compounds were phosphorylated, although the catalytic efficiency was low for geranyl phosphate.
doi:10.1021/bi9017957
PMCID: PMC3856865  PMID: 19928876
2.  The Streptomyces-produced antibiotic fosfomycin is a promiscuous substrate for Archaeal isopentenyl phosphate kinase 
Biochemistry  2012;51(4):917-925.
Isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK) catalyzes the phosphorylation of isopentenyl phosphate to form the isoprenoid precursor isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) in the archaeal mevalonate pathway. This enzyme is highly homologous to fosfomycin kinase (FomA), an antibiotic resistance enzyme found in a few strains of Streptomyces and Pseudomonas whose mode of action is inactivation by phosphorylation. Superposition of Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA) IPK and FomA structures aligns their respective substrates and catalytic residues, including H50 and K14 in THA IPK, and H58 and K18 in S. wedmorensis FomA. These residues are conserved only in the IPK and FomA members of the phosphate subdivision of the amino acid kinase superfamily. We measured the fosfomycin kinase activity of THA IPK, Km = 15.1 ± 1.0 mM and kcat = (4.0 ± 0.1) × 10−2 s−1, resulting in a catalytic efficiency, kcat/Km = 2.6 M−1s−1, that is five orders of magnitude less than the native reaction. Fosfomycin is a competitive inhibitor of IPK, Ki = 3.6 ± 0.2 mM. Molecular dynamics simulation of the IPK•fosfomycin•MgATP complex identified two binding poses for fosfomycin in the IP binding site, one of which results in a complex analogous to the native IPK•IP•ATP complex that it engages H50 and the lysine triangle formed by K5, K14, and K205. The other binding pose leads to a dead-end complex that engages K204 near the IP binding site to bind fosfomycin. Our findings suggest a mechanism for acquisition of FomA-based antibiotic resistance in fosfomycin producing organisms.
doi:10.1021/bi201662k
PMCID: PMC3273622  PMID: 22148590
3.  Discovery of a metabolic alternative to the classical mevalonate pathway 
eLife  2013;2:e00672.
Eukarya, Archaea, and some Bacteria encode all or part of the essential mevalonate (MVA) metabolic pathway clinically modulated using statins. Curiously, two components of the MVA pathway are often absent from archaeal genomes. The search for these missing elements led to the discovery of isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK), one of two activities necessary to furnish the universal five-carbon isoprenoid building block, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP). Unexpectedly, we now report functional IPKs also exist in Bacteria and Eukarya. Furthermore, amongst a subset of species within the bacterial phylum Chloroflexi, we identified a new enzyme catalyzing the missing decarboxylative step of the putative alternative MVA pathway. These results demonstrate, for the first time, a functioning alternative MVA pathway. Key to this pathway is the catalytic actions of a newly uncovered enzyme, mevalonate phosphate decarboxylase (MPD) and IPK. Together, these two discoveries suggest that unforeseen variation in isoprenoid metabolism may be widespread in nature.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00672.001
eLife digest
Living things make thousands of chemicals that are vital for life, and are also useful as medicines, perfumes, and food additives. The largest family of these natural chemicals is called the isoprenoids, and members of this family are found in all three domains of life: the eukaryotes (such as plants and animals), the Archaea (an ancient group of single-celled microbes), and bacteria.
The isoprenoids are made from a smaller building block called isopentenyl diphosphate, IPP for short, that contains five carbon atoms and two phosphate groups. IPP can be produced in two ways. The classical mevalonate pathway is found in most eukaryotes, including humans; statin drugs are used to inhibit this pathway to treat those with high cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The second pathway does not use the compound mevalonate and is found in many, but not all, bacteria as well as the chloroplasts of plants. Until recently, however, the enzymes needed for the last two steps of the classical mevalonate pathway appeared to be missing in the Archaea and in some bacteria.
Researchers subsequently discovered that an enzyme called isopentenyl phosphate kinase, shortened to IPK, was responsible for one of these two missing steps—the addition of IPP’s second phosphate group. The way this enzyme worked also suggested that there was an alternative mevalonate pathway in which the order of the last two steps was reversed. However, the identity of the enzyme responsible for the other step—the removal of a molecule of carbon dioxide to make the starting material needed by IPK—remained mysterious.
Now Dellas et al. have discovered the enzyme responsible for this missing step in Green non-sulphur bacteria, confirming the existence of the alternative mevalonate pathway for the first time. Previously it had been thought that this enzyme acted in the classical mevalonate pathway; but in fact this enzyme has evolved a new function and is not involved in the classical pathway at all. Moreover, Dellas et al. show that Green non-sulphur bacteria, and some eukaryotes, also have functional IPK enzymes. This means that IPK has now unexpectedly been observed in all three domains of life, and hints at another target to medically control mevalonate pathways. The discovery of the missing enzyme in the alternative pathway opens the door to the re-examination of many other living things, to find which have the new pathway and to work out why.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00672.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.00672
PMCID: PMC3857490  PMID: 24327557
Mevalonate pathway; Isopentenyl diphosphate; Archaea; Mevalonate phosphate decarboxylase; Chloroflexi; Plants; Arabidopsis; Other
4.  Mutation of Archaeal Isopentenyl Phosphate Kinase Highlights Mechanism and Guides Phosphorylation of Additional Isoprenoid Monophosphates 
ACS Chemical Biology  2010;5(6):589-601.
The biosynthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) from either the mevalonate (MVA) or the 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) pathway provides the key metabolite for primary and secondary isoprenoid biosynthesis. Isoprenoid metabolism plays crucial roles in membrane stability, steroid biosynthesis, vitamin production, protein localization, defense and communication, photoprotection, sugar transport, and glycoprotein biosynthesis. Recently, an alternative branch of the MVA pathway was discovered in the archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii involving a small molecule kinase, isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK). IPK belongs to the amino acid kinase (AAK) superfamily. In vitro, IPK phosphorylates isopentenyl monophosphate (IP) in an ATP and Mg2+-dependent reaction producing IPP. Here, we describe crystal structures of IPK from M. jannaschii refined to nominal resolutions of 2.0−2.8 Å. Notably, an active site histidine residue (His60) forms a hydrogen bond with the terminal phosphate of both substrate and product. This His residue serves as a marker for a subset of the AAK family that catalyzes phosphorylation of phosphate or phosphonate functional groups; the larger family includes carboxyl-directed kinases, which lack this active site residue. Using steady-state kinetic analysis of H60A, H60N, and H60Q mutants, the protonated form of the Nε2 nitrogen of His60 was shown to be essential for catalysis, most likely through hydrogen bond stabilization of the transition state accompanying transphosphorylation. Moreover, the structures served as the starting point for the engineering of IPK mutants capable of the chemoenzymatic synthesis of longer chain isoprenoid diphosphates from monophosphate precursors.
doi:10.1021/cb1000313
PMCID: PMC2887675  PMID: 20392112
5.  Mutagenesis of Isopentenyl Phosphate Kinase to Enhance Geranyl Phosphate Kinase Activity 
ACS chemical biology  2012;7(7):10.1021/cb300106e.
Isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK) catalyzes the ATP-dependent phosphorylation of isopentenyl phosphate (IP) to form isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) during biosynthesis of isoprenoid metabolites in Archaea. The structure of IPK from the archeaon Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA) was recently reported and guided the reconstruction of the IP binding site to accommodate the longer chain isoprenoid monophosphates geranyl phosphate (GP) and farnesyl phosphate (FP). We created four mutants of THA IPK with different combinations of alanine substitutions for Tyr70, Val73, Val130 and Ile140, amino acids with bulky side chains that limited the size of the side chain of the isoprenoid phosphate substrate that could be accommodated in the active site. The mutants had substantially increased GP kinase activity, with 20 to 200–fold increases in kcatGP and 30–130–fold increases in kcatGP/KMGP relative to that of wild type THA IPK. The mutations also resulted in a 106–fold drop in kcatIP/KMIP compared to wild-type IPK. No significant change in the kinetic parameters for the cosubstrate ATP were observed, signifying that binding between the nucleotide binding site and the IP binding site was not cooperative. The shift in substrate selectivity from IP to GP, and to a lesser extent, FP, in the mutants could act as a starting point for the creation of more efficient GP or FP kinases whose products could be exploited for the chemoenzymatic synthesis of radiolabeled isoprenoid diphosphates.
doi:10.1021/cb300106e
PMCID: PMC3856688  PMID: 22533411
6.  Escherichia coli Open Reading Frame 696 Is idi, a Nonessential Gene Encoding Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(15):4499-4504.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). In eukaryotes, archaebacteria, and some bacteria, IPP is synthesized from acetyl coenzyme A by the mevalonate pathway. The subsequent isomerization of IPP to DMAPP activates the five-carbon isoprene unit for subsequent prenyl transfer reactions. In Escherichia coli, the isoprene unit is synthesized from pyruvate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate by the recently discovered nonmevalonate pathway. An open reading frame (ORF696) encoding a putative IPP isomerase was identified in the E. coli chromosome at 65.3 min. ORF696 was cloned into an expression vector; the 20.5 kDa recombinant protein was purified in three steps, and its identity as an IPP isomerase was established biochemically. The gene for IPP isomerase, idi, is not clustered with other known genes for enzymes in the isoprenoid pathway. E. coli FH12 was constructed by disruption of the chromosomal idi gene with the aminoglycoside 3′-phosphotransferase gene and complemented by the wild-type idi gene on plasmid pFMH33 with a temperature-sensitive origin of replication. FH12/pFMH33 was able to grow at the restrictive temperature of 44°C and FH12 lacking the plasmid grew on minimal medium, thereby establishing that idi is a nonessential gene. Although the Vmax of the bacterial protein was 20-fold lower than that of its yeast counterpart, the catalytic efficiencies of the two enzymes were similar through a counterbalance in Kms. The E. coli protein requires Mg2+ or Mn2+ for activity. The enzyme contains conserved cysteine and glutamate active-site residues found in other IPP isomerases.
PMCID: PMC103578  PMID: 10419945
7.  Identification of an Archaeal Type II Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase in Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(6):1811-1817.
Isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP):dimethylallyl diphosphate isomerase catalyzes the interconversion of the fundamental five-carbon homoallylic and allylic diphosphate building blocks required for biosynthesis of isoprenoid compounds. Two different isomerases have been reported. The type I enzyme, first characterized in the late 1950s, is widely distributed in eukaryota and eubacteria. The type II enzyme was recently discovered in Streptomyces sp. strain CL190. Open reading frame 48 (ORF48) in the archaeon Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus encodes a putative type II IPP isomerase. A plasmid-encoded copy of the ORF complemented IPP isomerase activity in vivo in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strain RMC29, which contains chromosomal knockouts in the genes for type I IPP isomerase (idi) and 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate (dxs). The dxs gene was interrupted with a synthetic operon containing the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes erg8, erg12, and erg19 allowing for the conversion of mevalonic acid to IPP by the mevalonate pathway. His6-tagged M. thermautotrophicus type II IPP isomerase was produced in Escherichia coli and purified by Ni2+ chromatography. The purified protein was characterized by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. The enzyme has optimal activity at 70°C and pH 6.5. NADPH, flavin mononucleotide, and Mg2+ are required cofactors. The steady-state kinetic constants for the archaeal type II IPP isomerase from M. thermautotrophicus are as follows: Km, 64 μM; specific activity, 0.476 μmol mg−1 min−1; and kcat, 1.6 s−1.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.6.1811-1817.2004
PMCID: PMC355898  PMID: 14996812
8.  Two distinct pathways for essential metabolic precursors for isoprenoid biosynthesis 
Isoprenoids are a diverse group of molecules found in all organisms, where they perform such important biological functions as hormone signaling (e.g., steroids) in mammals, antioxidation (e.g., carotenoids) in plants, electron transport (e.g., ubiquinone), and cell wall biosynthesis intermediates in bacteria. All isoprenoids are synthesized by the consecutive condensation of the five-carbon monomer isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) to its isomer, dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). The biosynthetic pathway for the formation of IPP from acetyl-CoA (i.e., the mevalonate pathway) had been established mainly in mice and the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Curiously, most prokaryotic microorganisms lack homologs of the genes in the mevalonate pathway, even though IPP and DMAPP are essential for isoprenoid biosynthesis in bacteria. This observation provided an impetus to search for an alternative pathway to synthesize IPP and DMAPP, ultimately leading to the discovery of the mevalonate-independent 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway. This review article focuses on our significant contributions to a comprehensive understanding of the biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP.
doi:10.2183/pjab.88.41
PMCID: PMC3365244  PMID: 22450534
biosynthesis; inhibitor; isoprenoid; MEP pathway; mevalonate pathway; terpenoid
9.  Current Development in Isoprenoid Precursor Biosynthesis and Regulation 
Isoprenoids are one of the largest classes of natural products and all of them are constructed from two precursors, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and its isomer dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). For decades, the mevalonic acid (MVA) pathway was proposed to be the only IPP and DMAPP biosynthetic pathway. This review summarizes the newly discovered IPP and DMAPP production pathways since late 1990s, their distribution among different kingdoms, and their roles in secondary metabolite production. These new IPP and DMAPP production pathways include the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway, a modified MVA pathway, and the 5-Methylthioadenosine shunt pathway. Relative to the studies on the MVA pathway, information on the MEP pathway regulation is limited and the mechanistic details of several of its novel transformations remain to be addressed. Current status on both MEP pathway regulation and mechanistic issues are also presented.
doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2013.06.020
PMCID: PMC4068245  PMID: 23891475
isoprenoids; MVA; MEP; methylthioadenosine; regulation; biosynthesis
10.  Isoprenoid Biosynthesis in Synechocystis sp. Strain PCC6803 Is Stimulated by Compounds of the Pentose Phosphate Cycle but Not by Pyruvate or Deoxyxylulose-5-Phosphate 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(18):5045-5051.
The photosynthetic cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803 possesses homologs of known genes of the non-mevalonate 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 2-phosphate (MEP) pathway for synthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Isoprenoid biosynthesis in extracts of this cyanobacterium, measured by incorporation of radiolabeled IPP, was not stimulated by pyruvate, an initial substrate of the MEP pathway in Escherichia coli, or by deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate, the first pathway intermediate in E. coli. However, high rates of IPP incorporation were obtained with addition of dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP) and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (GA3P), as well as a variety of pentose phosphate cycle compounds. Fosmidomycin (at 1 μM and 1 mM), an inhibitor of deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase, did not significantly inhibit phototrophic growth of the cyanobacterium, nor did it affect [14C]IPP incorporation stimulated by DHAP plus GA3P. To date, it has not been possible to unequivocally demonstrate IPP isomerase activity in this cyanobacterium. The combined results suggest that the MEP pathway, as described for E. coli, is not the primary path by which isoprenoids are synthesized under photosynthetic conditions in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803. Our data support alternative routes of entry of pentose phosphate cycle substrates derived from photosynthesis.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.18.5045-5051.2002
PMCID: PMC135332  PMID: 12193620
11.  Roles of Phosphate Recognition in Inositol 1,3,4,5,6-Pentakisphosphate 2-Kinase (IPK1) Substrate Binding and Activation* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;288(37):26908-26913.
Background: The mechanism of substrate recognition for IPK1 (inositol 1,3,4,5,6-pentakisphosphate 2-kinase) is unresolved.
Results: Binding and activity data reveal specific roles for each phosphate of IP5.
Conclusion: The phosphate profile of IP5 is mechanistically critical to IPK1 activation.
Significance: Identifying determinants of substrate specificity will aid in the design of selective inhibitors for IPK1.
Inositol phosphate kinases (IPKs) sequentially phosphorylate inositol phosphates (IPs) to yield a group of small signaling molecules involved in diverse cellular processes. IPK1 (inositol 1,3,4,5,6-pentakisphosphate 2-kinase) phosphorylates inositol 1,3,4,5,6-pentakisphosphate to inositol 1,2,3,4,5,6-hexakisphosphate; however, the mechanism of IP recognition employed by IPK1 is currently unresolved. We demonstrated previously that IPK1 possesses an unstable N-terminal lobe in the absence of IP, which led us to propose that the phosphate profile of the IP was linked to stabilization of IPK1. Here, we describe a systematic study to determine the roles of the 1-, 3-, 5-, and 6-phosphate groups of inositol 1,3,4,5,6-pentakisphosphate in IP binding and IPK1 activation. The 5- and 6-phosphate groups were the most important for IP binding to IPK1, and the 1- and 3-phosphate groups were more important for IPK1 activation than the others. Moreover, we demonstrate that there are three critical residues (Arg-130, Lys-170, and Lys-411) necessary for IPK1 activity. Arg-130 is the only substrate-binding N-terminal lobe residue that can render IPK1 inactive; its 1-phosphate is critical for full IPK1 activity and for stabilization of the active conformation of IPK1. Taken together, our results support the model for recognition of the IP substrate by IPK1 in which (i) the 4-, 5-, and 6-phosphates are initially recognized by the C-terminal lobe, and subsequently, (ii) the interaction between the 1-phosphate and Arg-130 stabilizes the N-terminal lobe and activates IPK1. This model of IP recognition, believed to be unique among IPKs, could be exploited for selective inhibition of IPK1 in future studies that investigate the role of higher IPs.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M113.487777
PMCID: PMC3772240  PMID: 23884422
Enzyme Mechanisms; Inositol Phosphates; Isothermal Titration Calorimetry; Ligand-binding Protein; Phosphorylation; IP6; IPK1; Kinase Activation; Substrate Recognition
12.  Inhibition Studies on Enzymes Involved in Isoprenoid Biosynthesis: Focus on Two Potential Drug Targets: DXR and IDI-2 Enzymes 
Current enzyme inhibition  2011;7(2):10.2174/157340811796575317.
Isoprenoid compounds constitute an immensely diverse group of acyclic, monocyclic and polycyclic compounds that play important roles in all living organisms. Despite the diversity of their structures, this plethora of natural products arises from only two 5-carbon precursors, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). This review will discuss the enzymes in the mevalonate (MVA) and methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) biosynthetic pathways leading to IPP and DMAPP with a particular focus on MEP synthase (DXR) and IPP isomerase (IDI), which are potential targets for the development of antibiotic compounds. DXR is the second enzyme in the MEP pathway and the only one for which inhibitors with antimicrobial activity at pharmaceutically relevant concentrations are known. All of the published DXR inhibitors are fosmidomycin analogues, except for a few bisphosphonates with moderate inhibitory activity. These far, there are no other candidates that target DXR. IDI was first identified and characterised over 40 years ago (IDI-1) and a second convergently evolved isoform (IDI-2) was discovered in 2001. IDI-1 is a metalloprotein found in Eukarya and many species of Bacteria. Its mechanism has been extensively studied. In contrast, IDI-2 requires reduced flavin mononucleotide as a cofactor. The mechanism of action for IDI-2 is less well defined. This review will describe how lead inhibitors are being improved by structure-based drug design and enzymatic assays against DXR to lead to new drug families and how mechanistic probes are being used to address questions about the mechanisms of the isomerases.
doi:10.2174/157340811796575317
PMCID: PMC3856697  PMID: 24339799
DXR; IDI; isomerase; isopentenyl; isoprenoid; MEP; mevalonate; MVA; reductoisomerase
13.  Subcellular evidence for the involvement of peroxisomes in plant isoprenoid biosynthesis 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(12):2044-2046.
The role of peroxisomes in isoprenoid metabolism, especially in plants, has been questioned in several reports. A recent study of Sapir-Mir et al.1 revealed that the two isoforms of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) isomerase, catalyzing the isomerisation of IPP to dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) are found in the peroxisome. In this addendum, we provide additional data describing the peroxisomal localization of 5-phosphomevalonate kinase and mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, the last two enzymes of the mevalonic acid pathway leading to IPP.2 This finding was reinforced in our latest report showing that a short isoform of farnesyl diphosphate, using IPP and DMAPP as substrates, is also targeted to the organelle.3 Therefore, the classical sequestration of isoprenoid biosynthesis between plastids and cytosol/ER can be revisited by including the peroxisome as an additional isoprenoid biosynthetic compartment within plant cells.
doi:10.4161/psb.6.12.18173
PMCID: PMC3337203  PMID: 22080790
5-phosphomevalonate kinase; Arabidopsis thaliana; Catharanthus roseus; farnesyl diphosphate synthase; isoprenoid; mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase; mevalonic acid pathway; peroxisome
14.  Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for high-specificity production of isoprenol and prenol as next generation of biofuels 
Background
The isopentenols, including isoprenol and prenol, are excellent alternative fuels. However, they are not compounds largely accumulated in natural organism. The need for the next generation of biofuels with better physical and chemical properties impels us to develop biosynthetic routes for the production of isoprenol and prenol from renewable sugar. In this study, we use the heterogenous mevalonate-dependent (MVA) isoprenoid pathway for the synthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) intermediates, and then convert IPP and DMAPP to isoprenol and prenol, respectively.
Results
A mevalonate titer of 1.7 g/L was obtained by constructing an efficient MVA upper pathway in engineered E. coli. Different phosphatases and pyrophosphatases were investigated for their abilities in hydrolyzing the IPP and DMAPP. Consequently, ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase was found to be an efficient IPP and DMAPP hydrolase. Moreover, ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase from Bacillus subtilis (BsNudF) exhibited a equivalent substrate specificity towards IPP and DMAPP, while ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase from E. coli (EcNudF) presented a high substrate preference for DMAPP. Without the expression of any phosphatases or pyrophosphatases, a background level of isopentenols was synthesized. When the endogenous pyrophosphatase genes (EcNudF and yggV) that were capable of enhancing the hydrolyzation of the IPP and DMAPP were knocked out, the background level of isopentenols was still obtained. Maybe the synthesized IPP and DMAPP were hydrolyzed by some unknown hydrolases of E. coli. Finally, 1.3 g/L single isoprenol was obtained by blocking the conversion of IPP to DMAPP and employing the BsNudF, and 0.2 g/L ~80% prenol was produced by employing the EcNudF. A maximal yield of 12% was achieved in both isoprenol and prenol producing strains.
Conclusions
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first successful report on high-specificity production of isoprenol and prenol by microbial fermentation. Over 1.3 g/L isoprenol achieved in shake-flask experiments represents a quite encouraging titer of higher alcohols. In addition, the substrate specificities of ADP-ribose pyrophosphatases were determined and successfully applied for the high-specificity synthesis of isoprenol and prenol. Altogether, this work presents a promising strategy for high-specificity production of two excellent biofuels, isoprenol and prenol.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-6-57
PMCID: PMC3654967  PMID: 23618128
Isoprenol; Prenol; Metabolic engineering; Escherichia coli; Biofuel
15.  Type II Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase: Probing the Mechanism with Alkyne/Allene Diphosphate Substrate Analogues† 
Biochemistry  2010;49(29):6228-6233.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IDI) catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP), the basic five-carbon building blocks of isoprenoid molecules. Two structurally unrelated classes of IDI are known. Type I IPP isomerase (IDI-1) utilizes a divalent metal in a protonation-deprotonation reaction. In contrast, the type II enzyme (IDI-2) requires reduced flavin, raising the possibility that the reaction catalyzed by IDI-2 involves the net addition/abstraction of a hydrogen atom. As part of our studies of the mechanism of isomerization for IDI-2, we synthesized allene and alkyne substrate analogues for the enzyme. These molecules are predicted to be substantially less reactive toward proton addition than IPP and DMAPP, but have similar reactivities toward hydrogen atom addition. This prediction was verified by calculations of gas phase heats of reaction for addition of a proton and of a hydrogen atom to 1-butyne (3) and 1,2-butadiene (4) to form the 1-buten-2-yl carbocation and radical, respectively, and related affinities for 2-methyl-1-butene (5) and 2-methyl-2-butene (6) using G3MP2B3 and CBS-QB3 protocols. Alkyne 1-OPP and allene 2-OPP were not substrates for Thermus thermophilus IDI-2 or Escherichia coli IDI-1, but instead were competitive inhibitors. The experimental and computational results are consistent with a protonation-deprotonation mechanism for the enzyme-catalyzed isomerization of IPP and DMAPP.
doi:10.1021/bi100844e
PMCID: PMC2912430  PMID: 20560533
16.  Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase. Mechanism-Based Inhibition by Diene Analogues of Isopentenyl Diphosphate and Dimethylallyl Diphosphate 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2005;127(49):17433-17438.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IDI) catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). This is an essential step in the mevalonate entry into the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway. The isomerization catalyzed by type I IDI involves protonation of the carbon-carbon double bond in IPP or DMAPP to form a tertiary carbocation, followed by deprotonation. Diene analogs for DMAPP (E-2-OPP and Z-2-OPP) and IPP (4-OPP) were synthesized and found to be potent active-site directed irreversible inhibitors of the enzyme. X-ray analysis of the E·I complex between E. coli IDI and 4-OPP reveals the presence of two isomers that differ in the stereochemistry of the newly formed C3-C4 double bond in the hydrocarbon chain of the inhibitor. In both adducts C5 of the inhibitor is joined to the sulfur of C67. In these structures the methyl group formed upon protonation of the diene moiety in 4-OPP is located near E116, implicating that residue in the protonation step.
doi:10.1021/ja056187h
PMCID: PMC2528281  PMID: 16332094
17.  A Whole-Cell Phenotypic Screening Platform for Identifying Methylerythritol Phosphate Pathway-Selective Inhibitors as Novel Antibacterial Agents 
Isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for survival of all living organisms. More than 50,000 unique isoprenoids occur naturally, with each constructed from two simple five-carbon precursors: isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Two pathways for the biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP are found in nature. Humans exclusively use the mevalonate (MVA) pathway, while most bacteria, including all Gram-negative and many Gram-positive species, use the unrelated methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here we report the development of a novel, whole-cell phenotypic screening platform to identify compounds that selectively inhibit the MEP pathway. Strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium were engineered to have separately inducible MEP (native) and MVA (nonnative) pathways. These strains, RMC26 and CT31-7d, were then used to differentiate MVA pathway- and MEP pathway-specific perturbation. Compounds that inhibit MEP pathway-dependent bacterial growth but leave MVA-dependent growth unaffected represent MEP pathway-selective antibacterials. This screening platform offers three significant results. First, the compound is antibacterial and is therefore cell permeant, enabling access to the intracellular target. Second, the compound inhibits one or more MEP pathway enzymes. Third, the MVA pathway is unaffected, suggesting selectivity for targeting the bacterial versus host pathway. The cell lines also display increased sensitivity to two reported MEP pathway-specific inhibitors, further biasing the platform toward inhibitors selective for the MEP pathway. We demonstrate development of a robust, high-throughput screening platform that combines phenotypic and target-based screening that can identify MEP pathway-selective antibacterials simply by monitoring optical density as the readout for cell growth/inhibition.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00987-12
PMCID: PMC3421842  PMID: 22777049
18.  Type-2 Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase. Evidence for a Stepwise Mechanism 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2011;133(47):19017-19019.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IDI) catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). These two molecules are the building blocks for construction of isoprenoid carbon skeletons in nature. Two structurally unrelated forms of IDI are known. A variety of studies support a proton addition/proton elimination mechanism for both enzymes. During studies with Thermus thermophilus IDI-2, we discovered that the olefinic hydrogens of a vinyl thiomethyl analogue of isopentenyl diphosphate exchanged with solvent when the enzyme was incubated with D2O without concomitant isomerization of the double bond. These results suggest that the enzyme-catalyzed isomerization reaction is not concerted.
doi:10.1021/ja208331q
PMCID: PMC3237117  PMID: 22047048
19.  Farnesyl Diphosphate Synthase: The Art of Compromise between Substrate Selectivity and Stereoselectivity 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2006;128(49):15819-15823.
Farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) synthase catalyzes the consecutive head-to-tail condensations of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP, C5) with dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP, C5) and geranyl diphosphate (GPP, C10) to give (E,E)-FPP (C15). The enzyme belongs to a genetically distinct family of chain elongation enzymes that install E-double bonds during each addition of a five-carbon isoprene unit. Analysis of the C10 and C15 products from incubations with avian FPP synthase reveals that small amounts of neryl diphosphate (Z-C10) and (Z,E)-FPP are formed along with the E-isomers during the C5 → C10 and C10 → C15 reactions. Similar results were obtained for FPP synthase from Escherichia coli, Artemisia tridentata (sage brush), Pyrococcus furiosus, and Methanobacter thermautotrophicus and for GPP and FPP synthesized in vivo by E. coli FPP synthase. When (R)-[2-2H]IPP was a substrate for chain elongation, no deuterium was found in the chain elongation products. In contrast, the deuterium in (S)-[2-2H]IPP was incorporated into all of the products. Thus, the pro-R hydrogen at C2 of IPP is lost when the E- and Z-double bond isomers are formed. The synthesis of Z-double bond isomers by FPP synthase during chain elongation is unexpected for a highly evolved enzyme and probably reflects a compromise between optimizing double bond stereoselectivity and the need to exclude DMAPP from the IPP binding site.
doi:10.1021/ja065573b
PMCID: PMC2516916  PMID: 17147392
20.  Evidence of a Role for LytB in the Nonmevalonate Pathway of Isoprenoid Biosynthesis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(20):5841-5848.
It is proposed that the lytB gene encodes an enzyme of the deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate (DOXP) pathway that catalyzes a step at or subsequent to the point at which the pathway branches to form isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). A mutant of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis strain PCC 6803 with an insertion in the promoter region of lytB grew slowly and produced greenish-yellow, easily bleached colonies. Insertions in the coding region of lytB were lethal. Supplementation of the culture medium with the alcohol analogues of IPP and DMAPP (3-methyl-3-buten-1-ol and 3-methyl-2-buten-1-ol) completely alleviated the growth impairment of the mutant. The Synechocystis lytB gene and a lytB cDNA from the flowering plant Adonis aestivalis were each found to significantly enhance accumulation of carotenoids in Escherichia coli engineered to produce these colored isoprenoid compounds. When combined with a cDNA encoding deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate synthase (dxs), the initial enzyme of the DOXP pathway, the individual salutary effects of lytB and dxs were multiplied. In contrast, the combination of lytB and a cDNA encoding IPP isomerase (ipi) was no more effective in enhancing carotenoid accumulation than ipi alone, indicating that the ratio of IPP and DMAPP produced via the DOXP pathway is influenced by LytB.
PMCID: PMC94708  PMID: 11004185
21.  Metabolite Profiling Identified Methylerythritol Cyclodiphosphate Efflux as a Limiting Step in Microbial Isoprenoid Production 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e47513.
Isoprenoids are natural products that are all derived from isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). These precursors are synthesized either by the mevalonate (MVA) pathway or the 1-Deoxy-D-Xylulose 5-Phosphate (DXP) pathway. Metabolic engineering of microbes has enabled overproduction of various isoprenoid products from the DXP pathway including lycopene, artemisinic acid, taxadiene and levopimaradiene. To date, there is no method to accurately measure all the DXP metabolic intermediates simultaneously so as to enable the identification of potential flux limiting steps. In this study, a solid phase extraction coupled with ultra performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (SPE UPLC-MS) method was developed. This method was used to measure the DXP intermediates in genetically engineered E. coli. Unexpectedly, methylerythritol cyclodiphosphate (MEC) was found to efflux when certain enzymes of the pathway were over-expressed, demonstrating the existence of a novel competing pathway branch in the DXP metabolism. Guided by these findings, ispG was overexpressed and was found to effectively reduce the efflux of MEC inside the cells, resulting in a significant increase in downstream isoprenoid production. This study demonstrated the necessity to quantify metabolites enabling the identification of a hitherto unrecognized pathway and provided useful insights into rational design in metabolic engineering.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047513
PMCID: PMC3487848  PMID: 23133596
22.  Characterization of an Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase involved in the Juvenile Hormone pathway in Aedes aegypti 
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IPPI) is an enzyme involved in the synthesis of juvenile hormone (JH) in the corpora allata (CA) of insects. IPPI catalyzes the conversion of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) to dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP); afterwards IPP and DMAPP condense in a head-to-tail manner to produce geranyl diphosphate (GPP), this head-to-tail condensation can be repeated, by the further reaction of GPP with IPP, yielding the JH precursor farnesyl diphosphate. An IPPI expressed sequence tag (EST) was obtained from an Aedes aegypti corpora-allata + corpora cardiaca library. Its full-length cDNA encodes a 244-aa protein that shows a high degree of similarity with type I IPPIs from other organisms, particularly for those residues that have important roles in catalysis, metal coordination and interaction with the diphosphate moiety of the IPP. Heterologous expression produced a recombinant protein that metabolized IPP into DMAPP; treatment of DMAPP with phosphoric acid produced isoprene, a volatile compound that was measured with an assay based on a solid-phase micro extraction protocol and direct analysis by gas chromatography. A. aegypti IPPI (AaIPPI) required Mg2+ or Mn2+ but not Zn2+ for full activity and it was entirely inhibited by iodoacetamide. Real time PCR experiments showed that AaIPPI is highly expressed in the CA. Changes in AaIPPI mRNA levels in the CA in the pupal and adult female mosquito corresponded well with changes in JH synthesis (Li et al., 2003). This is the first molecular and functional characterization of an isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase involved in the production of juvenile hormone in the CA of an insect.
doi:10.1016/j.ibmb.2012.07.002
PMCID: PMC3438293  PMID: 22782071
Mosquito; IPP isomerase; juvenile hormone; corpora allata; Aedes
23.  Methanocaldococcus jannaschii Uses a Modified Mevalonate Pathway for Biosynthesis of Isopentenyl Diphosphate 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(9):3192-3198.
Archaea have been shown to produce isoprenoids from mevalonate; however, genome analysis has failed to identify several genes in the mevalonate pathway on the basis of sequence similarity. A predicted archaeal kinase, coded for by the MJ0044 gene, was associated with other mevalonate pathway genes in the archaea and was predicted to be the “missing” phosphomevalonate kinase. The MJ0044-derived protein was tested for phosphomevalonate kinase activity and was found not to catalyze this reaction. The MJ0044 gene product was found to phosphorylate isopentenyl phosphate, generating isopentenyl diphosphate. Unlike other known kinases associated with isoprene biosynthesis, Methanocaldococcus jannaschii isopentenyl phosphate kinase is predicted to be a member of the aspartokinase superfamily.
doi:10.1128/JB.188.9.3192-3198.2006
PMCID: PMC1447442  PMID: 16621811
24.  Linear Free Energy Relationships Demonstrate a Catalytic Role for the Flavin Mononucleotide Coenzyme of the Type II Isopentenyl Diphosphate:Dimethylallyl Diphosphate Isomerase 
The type II isopentenyl diphosphate:dimethylallyl diphosphate isomerase (IDI-2) catalyzes the reversible isomerization of the two ubiquitous isoprene units, isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP), which are required to initiate the biosynthesis of all isoprenoid compounds found in nature. The overall chemical transformation catalyzed by IDI-2 involves a net 1,3-proton addition/elimination reaction. Surprisingly, IDI-2 requires a reduced flavin mononucleotide (FMN) coenzyme to carry out this redox neutral isomerization. The exact function of FMN in catalysis has not yet been clearly defined. To provide mechanistic insight into the role of the reduced flavin in IDI-2 catalysis, several FMN analogues with altered electronic properties were chemoenzymatically prepared, and their effects on the kinetic properties of the IDI-2 catalyzed reaction were investigated. Linear free energy relationships (LFERs) between the electronic properties of the flavin and the steady state kinetic parameters of the IDI-2 catalyzed reaction were observed. The LFER studies are complemented with kinetic isotope effect studies and kinetic characterization of an active site mutant enzyme (Q154N). Cumulatively, the data presented in this work (and in other studies) suggest that the reduced FMN coenzyme of IDI-2 functions as an acid/base catalyst, with the N5 atom of the flavin likely playing a critical role in the deprotonation of IPP en route to DMAPP formation. Several potential chemical mechanisms involving the reduced flavin as an acid/base catalyst are presented and discussed.
doi:10.1021/ja104090m
PMCID: PMC2918422  PMID: 20593767
25.  Retinoid production using metabolically engineered Escherichia coli with a two-phase culture system 
Background
Retinoids are lipophilic isoprenoids composed of a cyclic group and a linear chain with a hydrophilic end group. These compounds include retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, retinyl esters, and various derivatives of these structures. Retinoids are used as cosmetic agents and effective pharmaceuticals for skin diseases. Retinal, an immediate precursor of retinoids, is derived by β-carotene 15,15'-mono(di)oxygenase (BCM(D)O) from β-carotene, which is synthesized from the isoprenoid building blocks isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Retinoids are chemically unstable and biologically degraded via retinoic acid. Although extensive studies have been performed on the microbial production of carotenoids, retinoid production using microbial metabolic engineering has not been reported. Here, we report retinoid production using engineered Escherichia coli that express exogenous BCM(D)O and the mevalonate (MVA) pathway for the building blocks synthesis in combination with a two-phase culture system using a dodecane overlay.
Results
Among the BCM(D)O tested in E. coli, the synthetic retinoid synthesis protein (SR), based on bacteriorhodopsin-related protein-like homolog (Blh) of the uncultured marine bacteria 66A03, showed the highest β-carotene cleavage activity with no residual intracellular β-carotene. By introducing the exogenous MVA pathway, 8.7 mg/L of retinal was produced, which is 4-fold higher production than that of augmenting the MEP pathway (dxs overexpression). There was a large gap between retinal production and β-carotene consumption using the exogenous MVA pathway; therefore, the retinal derivatives were analyzed. The derivatives, except for retinoic acid, that formed were identified, and the levels of retinal, retinol, and retinyl acetate were measured. Amounts as high as 95 mg/L retinoids were obtained from engineered E. coli DH5α harboring the synthetic SR gene and the exogenous MVA pathway in addition to dxs overexpression, which were cultured at 29°C for 72 hours with 2YT medium containing 2.0% (w/v) glycerol as the main carbon source. However, a significant level of intracellular degradation of the retinoids was also observed in the culture. To prevent degradation of the intracellular retinoids through in situ extraction from the cells, a two-phase culture system with dodecane was used. The highest level of retinoid production (136 mg/L) was obtained after 72 hours with 5 mL of dodecane overlaid on a 5 mL culture.
Conclusions
In this study, we successfully produced 136 mg/L retinoids, which were composed of 67 mg/L retinal, 54 mg/L retinol, and 15 mg/L retinyl acetate, using a two-phase culture system with dodecane, which produced 68-fold more retinoids than the initial level of production (2.2 mg/L). Our results demonstrate the potential use of E. coli as a promising microbial cell factory for retinoid production.
doi:10.1186/1475-2859-10-59
PMCID: PMC3160355  PMID: 21801353

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