Direct analysis of membrane lipids by liquid chromatography-electrospray mass spectrometry was used to demonstrate the role of unsaturation in ether lipids in the adaptation of Methanococcoides burtonii to low temperature. A proteomics approach using two-dimensional liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to identify enzymes involved in lipid biosynthesis, and a pathway for lipid biosynthesis was reconstructed from the M. burtonii draft genome sequence. The major phospholipids were archaeol phosphatidylglycerol, archaeol phosphatidylinositol, hydroxyarchaeol phosphatidylglycerol, and hydroxyarchaeol phosphatidylinositol. All phospholipid classes contained a series of unsaturated analogues, with the degree of unsaturation dependent on phospholipid class. The proportion of unsaturated lipids from cells grown at 4°C was significantly higher than for cells grown at 23°C. 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A synthase, farnesyl diphosphate synthase, and geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase were identified in the expressed proteome, and most genes involved in the mevalonate pathway and processes leading to the formation of phosphatidylinositol and phosphatidylglycerol were identified in the genome sequence. In addition, M. burtonii encodes CDP-inositol and CDP-glycerol transferases and a number of homologs of the plant geranylgeranyl reductase. It therefore appears that the unsaturation of lipids may be due to incomplete reduction of an archaeol precursor rather than to a desaturase mechanism. This study shows that cold adaptation in M. burtonii involves specific changes in membrane lipid unsaturation. It also demonstrates that global methods of analysis for lipids and proteomics linked to a draft genome sequence can be effectively combined to infer specific mechanisms of key biological processes.
Two open reading frames which encode the homologues of (all-E) prenyl diphosphate synthase are found in the whole-genome sequence of Sulfolobus solfataricus, a thermoacidophilic archaeon. It has been suggested that one is a geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase gene, but the specificity and biological significance of the enzyme encoded by the other have remained unclear. Thus, we isolated the latter by the PCR method, expressed the enzyme in Escherichia coli cells, purified it, and characterized it. The archaeal enzyme, 281 amino acids long, is highly thermostable and requires Mg2+ and Triton X-100 for full activity. It catalyzes consecutive E-type condensations of isopentenyl diphosphate with an allylic substrate such as geranylgeranyl diphosphate and yields the medium-chain product hexaprenyl diphosphate. Despite such product specificity, phylogenetic analysis revealed that the archaeal medium-chain prenyl diphosphate synthase is distantly related to the other medium- and long-chain enzymes but is closely related to eucaryal short-chain enzymes.
This review deals with the in vitro biosynthesis of the characteristics of polar lipids in archaea along with preceding in vivo studies. Isoprenoid chains are synthesized through the classical mevalonate pathway, as in eucarya, with minor modifications in some archaeal species. Most enzymes involved in the pathway have been identified enzymatically and/or genomically. Three of the relevant enzymes are found in enzyme families different from the known enzymes. The order of reactions in the phospholipid synthesis pathway (glycerophosphate backbone formation, linking of glycerophosphate with two radyl chains, activation by CDP, and attachment of common polar head groups) is analogous to that of bacteria. sn-Glycerol-1-phosphate dehydrogenase is responsible for the formation of the sn-glycerol-1-phosphate backbone of phospholipids in all archaea. After the formation of two ether bonds, CDP-archaeol acts as a common precursor of various archaeal phospholipid syntheses. Various phospholipid-synthesizing enzymes from archaea and bacteria belong to the same large CDP-alcohol phosphatidyltransferase family. In short, the first halves of the phospholipid synthesis pathways play a role in synthesis of the characteristic structures of archaeal and bacterial phospholipids, respectively. In the second halves of the pathways, the polar head group-attaching reactions and enzymes are homologous in both domains. These are regarded as revealing the hybrid nature of phospholipid biosynthesis. Precells proposed by Wächtershäuser are differentiated into archaea and bacteria by spontaneous segregation of enantiomeric phospholipid membranes (with sn-glycerol-1-phosphate and sn-glycerol-3-phosphate backbones) and the fusion and fission of precells. Considering the nature of the phospholipid synthesis pathways, we here propose that common phospholipid polar head groups were present in precells before the differentiation into archaea and bacteria.
Geranylgeranyl reductase from Sulfolobus acidocaldarius was shown to catalyze the reduction of geranylgeranyl groups in the precursors of archaeal membrane lipids, generally reducing all four double bonds. However, when geranylgeranyl diphosphate was subjected to the reductase reaction, only three of the four double bonds were reduced. Mass spectrometry and acid hydrolysis indicated that the allylic double bond was preserved in the partially reduced product derived from geranylgeranyl diphosphate. Thus, the reaction product was shown to be phytyl diphosphate, which is a substrate for archaeal prenyltransferases, unlike the completely reduced compound phytanyl diphosphate.
Tetrahydromethanopterin (H4MPT) is a tetrahydrofolate analog originally discovered in methanogenic archaea, but later found in other archaea and bacteria. The extent to which H4MPT occurs among living organisms is unknown. The key enzyme which distinguishes the biosynthetic pathways of H4MPT and tetrahydrofolate is ribofuranosylaminobenzene 5'-phosphate synthase (RFAP synthase). Given the importance of RFAP synthase in H4MPT biosynthesis, the identification of putative RFAP synthase genes and measurement of RFAP synthase activity would provide an indication of the presence of H4MPT in untested microorganisms. Investigation of putative archaeal RFAP synthase genes has been hampered by the tendency of the resulting proteins to form inactive inclusion bodies in Escherichia coli. The current work describes a colorimetric assay for measuring RFAP synthase activity, and two modified procedures for expressing recombinant RFAP synthase genes to produce soluble, active enzyme. By lowering the incubation temperature during expression, RFAP synthase from Archaeoglobus fulgidus was produced in E. coli and purified to homogeneity. The production of active RFAP synthase from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus was achieved by coexpression of the gene MTH0830 with a molecular chaperone. This is the first direct biochemical identification of a methanogen gene that codes for an active RFAP synthase.
In order to relate the biogenesis of the lactose transport system to lipid synthesis, a glycerol-requiring mutant of Escherichia coli K-12 with a specific defect in l-glycerol-3-phosphate synthesis was isolated and characterized. The defective enzyme is the biosynthetic l-glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase [l-glycerol-3-phosphate: NAD (P) oxidoreductase, EC 22.214.171.124] which functions as a dihydroxyacetone phosphate reductase to provide l-glycerol-3-phosphate for lipid synthesis. In this mutant, removal of glycerol from the growth medium results in inhibition of the synthesis of protein, deoxyribonucleic acid, and phospholipid. Inhibition of phospholipid synthesis immediately follows glycerol removal, whereas the inhibition of deoxyribonucleic acid and protein synthesis is preceded by a short lag period. Glycerol starvation does not change the turnover pattern of previously synthesized phospholipids. The blocking of lipid synthesis by glycerol starvation causes a drastic decrease in inducibility of β-galactoside transport activity relative to β-galactosidase, indicating that induction of lactose transport requires de novo lipid synthesis.
The membrane lipids of archaea are characterized by unique isoprenoid biochemistry, which typically is based on two core lipid structures, sn-2,3-diphytanylglycerol diether (archaeol) and sn-2,3-dibiphytanyldiglycerol tetraether (caldarchaeol). The biosynthetic pathway for the tetraether lipid entails unprecedented head-to-head coupling of isoprenoid intermediates by an unknown mechanism involving unidentified enzymes. To investigate the isoprenoid ether lipid biosynthesis pathway of the hyperthermophilic archaeon, Archaeoglobus fulgidus, its lipid synthesis machinery was reconstructed in an engineered E. coli strain in an effort to demonstrate, for the first time, efficient isoprenoid ether lipid biosynthesis for the production of the intermediate, digeranylgeranylglyceryl phosphate (DGGGP). The biosynthesis of DGGGP was verified using a LC/MS/MS technique and was accomplished by cloning and expressing the native E. coli gene for IPP isomerase (idi), along with the A. fulgidus genes for G1P dehydrogenase (egsA) and GGPP synthase (gps), under the control of the lac promoter. The A. fulgidus genes for GGGP synthase (GGGPS) and DGGGP synthase (DGGGPS), under the control of the araBAD promoter, were then introduced and expressed to enable DGGGP biosynthesis in vivo. This investigation established roles for four A. fulgidus genes in the isoprenoid ether lipid pathway for DGGGP biosynthesis and provides a platform useful for identification of subsequent, currently unknown, steps in tetraether lipid biosynthesis proceeding from DGGGP, which is the presumed substrate for the head-to-head coupling reaction yielding unsaturated caldarchaeol.
Archaeoglobus fulgidus; isoprenoid; ether lipid; DGGGP
Archaea and eukaryotes share a dolichol phosphate-dependent system for protein N-glycosylation. In both domains, the acetamido sugar N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) forms part of the core oligosaccharide. However, the archaeal Methanococcales produce GlcNAc using the bacterial biosynthetic pathway. Key enzymes in this pathway belong to large families of proteins with diverse functions; therefore, the archaeal enzymes could not be identified solely using comparative sequence analysis. Genes encoding acetamido sugar-biosynthetic proteins were identified in Methanococcus maripaludis using phylogenetic and gene cluster analyses. Proteins expressed in Escherichia coli were purified and assayed for the predicted activities. The MMP1680 protein encodes a universally conserved glucosamine-6-phosphate synthase. The MMP1077 phosphomutase converted α-d-glucosamine-6-phosphate to α-d-glucosamine-1-phosphate, although this protein is more closely related to archaeal pentose and glucose phosphomutases than to bacterial glucosamine phosphomutases. The thermostable MJ1101 protein catalyzed both the acetylation of glucosamine-1-phosphate and the uridylyltransferase reaction with UTP to produce UDP-GlcNAc. The MMP0705 protein catalyzed the C-2 epimerization of UDP-GlcNAc, and the MMP0706 protein used NAD+ to oxidize UDP-N-acetylmannosamine, forming UDP-N-acetylmannosaminuronate (ManNAcA). These two proteins are similar to enzymes used for proteobacterial lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis and gram-positive bacterial capsule production, suggesting a common evolutionary origin and a widespread distribution of ManNAcA. UDP-GlcNAc and UDP-ManNAcA biosynthesis evolved early in the euryarchaeal lineage, because most of their genomes contain orthologs of the five genes characterized here. These UDP-acetamido sugars are predicted to be precursors for flagellin and S-layer protein modifications and for the biosynthesis of methanogenic coenzyme B.
Phospholipid synthesis has been reported to be subject to stringent control in Escherichia coli. We present evidence that demonstrates a strict correlation between guanosine tetraphosphate accumulation and inhibition of phospholipid synthesis. In vivo experiments designed to examine the pattern of phospholipid labeling with 32P-inorganic phosphate and 32P-sn-glycerol-3-phosphate suggest that regulation must occur at the glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase step. Assay of phospholipid synthesis by cell-free extracts and semipurified preparations revealed that guanosine tetraphosphate inhibits at least two enzymes specific for the biosynthetic pathway, sn-glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase as well as sn-glycerol-3-phosphate phosphatidyl transferase. These findings provide a biochemical basis for the stringent control of lipid synthesis as well as regulation of steady-state levels of phospholipid in growing cells.
Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) are core membrane lipids of the Crenarchaeota. The structurally unusual GDGT crenarchaeol has been proposed as a taxonomically specific biomarker for the marine planktonic group I archaea. It is found ubiquitously in the marine water column and in sediments. In this work, samples of microbial community biomass were obtained from several alkaline and neutral-pH hot springs in Nevada, United States. Lipid extracts of these samples were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Each sample contained GDGTs, and among these compounds was crenarchaeol. The distribution of archaeal lipids in Nevada hot springs did not appear to correlate with temperature, as has been observed in the marine environment. Instead, a significant correlation with the concentration of bicarbonate was observed. Archaeal DNA was analyzed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. All samples contained 16S rRNA gene sequences which were more strongly related to thermophilic crenarchaeota than to Cenarchaeum symbiosum, a marine nonthermophilic crenarchaeon. The occurrence of crenarchaeol in environments containing sequences affiliated with thermophilic crenarchaeota suggests a wide phenotypic distribution of this compound. The results also indicate that crenarchaeol can no longer be considered an exclusive biomarker for marine species.
In N-glycosylation in both Eukarya and Archaea, N-linked oligosaccharides are assembled on dolichol phosphate prior to transfer of the glycan to the protein target. However, whereas only the α-position isoprene subunit is saturated in eukaryal dolichol phosphate, both the α- and ω-position isoprene subunits are reduced in the archaeal lipid. The agents responsible for dolichol phosphate saturation remain largely unknown. The present study sought to identify dolichol phosphate reductases in the halophilic archaeon, Haloferax volcanii. Homology-based searches recognize HVO_1799 as a geranylgeranyl reductase. Mass spectrometry revealed that cells deleted of HVO_1799 fail to fully reduce the isoprene chains of Hfx. volcanii membrane phospholipids and glycolipids. Likewise, the absence of HVO_1799 led to a loss of saturation of the ω-position isoprene subunit of C55 and C60 dolichol phosphate, with the effect of HVO_1799 deletion being more pronounced with C60 dolichol phosphate than with C55 dolichol phosphate. Glycosylation of dolichol phosphate in the deletion strain occurred preferentially on that version of the lipid saturated at both the α- and ω-position isoprene subunits.
Archaea; dolichol phosphate; geranylgeranyl reductase; Haloferax volcanii; isoprene; reductase
Archaeal membrane lipids consist of branched, saturated hydrocarbons distinct from those found in bacteria and eukaryotes. Digeranylgeranylglycerophospholipid reductase (DGGR) catalyzes the hydrogenation process that converts unsaturated 2,3-di-O-geranylgeranylglyceryl phosphate to saturated 2,3-di-O-phytanylglyceryl phosphate as a critical step in the biosynthesis of archaeal membrane lipids. The saturation of hydrocarbon chains confers the ability to resist hydrolysis and oxidation and helps archaea withstand extreme conditions. DGGR is a member of the geranylgeranyl reductase (GGR) family that is also widely distributed in bacteria and plants, where the family members are involved in the biosynthesis of photosynthetic pigments. We have determined the crystal structure of DGGR from the thermophilic heterotrophic archaea Thermoplasma acidophilum at 1.6 Å resolution, in complex with FAD and a bacterial lipid. The DGGR structure can be assigned to the well-studied, para-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase (PHBH) SCOP superfamily of flavoproteins that include many aromatic hydroxylases and other enzymes with diverse functions. In the DGGR complex, FAD adopts the IN conformation (closed) previously observed in other PHBH flavoproteins. DGGR contains a large substrate-binding site that extends across the entire ligand-binding domain. Electron density corresponding to a bacterial lipid was found within this cavity. The cavity consists of a large opening that tapers down to two narrow curved tunnels that closely mimic the shape of the preferred substrate. We identified a sequence motif, PxxYxWxFP, that defines a specificity pocket in the structure and precisely aligns the double bond of the geranyl group with respect to the FAD cofactor, thus providing a structural basis for the substrate specificity of GGRs. DGGR is likely to share a common mechanism with other PHBH enzymes in which FAD switches between two conformations that correspond to the reductive and oxidative half cycles. The structure provides evidence that substrate binding likely involves conformational changes, which are coupled to the two conformational states of the FAD.
Conversion of acetate to methane (aceticlastic methanogenesis) is an ecologically important process carried out exclusively by methanogenic archaea. An important enzyme for this process as well as for methanogenic growth on carbon monoxide is the five-subunit archaeal CO dehydrogenase/acetyl coenzyme A (CoA) synthase multienzyme complex (CODH/ACS) catalyzing both CO oxidation/CO2 reduction and cleavage/synthesis of acetyl-CoA. Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A contains two very similar copies of a six-gene operon (cdh genes) encoding two isoforms of CODH/ACS (Cdh1 and Cdh2) and a single CdhA subunit, CdhA3. To address the role of the CODH/ACS system in M. acetivorans, mutational as well as promoter/reporter gene fusion analyses were conducted. Phenotypic characterization of cdh disruption mutants (three single and double mutants, as well as the triple mutant) revealed a strict requirement of either Cdh1 or Cdh2 for acetotrophic or carboxidotrophic growth, as well as for autotrophy, which demonstrated that both isoforms are bona fide CODH/ACS. While expression of the Cdh2-encoding genes was generally higher than that of genes encoding Cdh1, both appeared to be regulated differentially in response to growth phase and to changing substrate conditions. While dispensable for growth, CdhA3 clearly affected expression of cdh1, suggesting that it functions in signal perception and transduction rather than in catabolism. The data obtained argue for a functional hierarchy and regulatory cross talk of the CODH/ACS isoforms.
Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus uses lysine for both protein synthesis and cross-linking pseudomurein in its cell wall. A diaminopimelate aminotransferase enzyme from this methanogen (MTH0052) converts tetrahydrodipicolinate to L,L-diaminopimelate, a lysine precursor. This gene complemented an Escherichia coli diaminopimelate auxotrophy, and the purified protein catalyzed the transamination of diaminopimelate to tetrahydrodipicolinate. Phylogenetic analysis indicated this gene was recruited from anaerobic Gram-positive bacteria. These results expand the family of diaminopimelate aminotransferases to a diverse set of plant, bacterial and archaeal homologs. In contrast marine methanogens from the Methanococcales, which lack pseudomurein, appear to use a different diaminopimelate pathway for lysine biosynthesis.
Computer analysis of the archaeal genome databases failed to identify orthologues of all of the bacterial cobamide biosynthetic enzymes. Of particular interest was the lack of an orthologue of the bifunctional nucleoside triphosphate (NTP):5′-deoxyadenosylcobinamide kinase/GTP:adenosylcobinamide-phosphate guanylyltransferase enzyme (CobU in Salmonella enterica). This paper reports the identification of an archaeal gene encoding a new nucleotidyltransferase, which is proposed to be the nonorthologous replacement of the S. enterica cobU gene. The gene encoding this nucleotidyltransferase was identified using comparative genome analysis of the sequenced archaeal genomes. Orthologues of the gene encoding this activity are limited at present to members of the domain Archaea. The corresponding ORF open reading frame from Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum ΔH (MTH1152; referred to as cobY) was amplified and cloned, and the CobY protein was expressed and purified from Escherichia coli as a hexahistidine-tagged fusion protein. This enzyme had GTP:adenosylcobinamide-phosphate guanylyltransferase activity but did not have the NTP:AdoCbi kinase activity associated with the CobU enzyme of S. enterica. NTP:adenosylcobinamide kinase activity was not detected in M. thermoautotrophicum ΔH cell extract, suggesting that this organism may not have this activity. The cobY gene complemented a cobU mutant of S. enterica grown under anaerobic conditions where growth of the cell depended on de novo adenosylcobalamin biosynthesis. cobY, however, failed to restore adenosylcobalamin biosynthesis in cobU mutants grown under aerobic conditions where de novo synthesis of this coenzyme was blocked, and growth of the cell depended on the assimilation of exogenous cobinamide. These data strongly support the proposal that the relevant cobinamide intermediates during de novo adenosylcobalamin biosynthesis are adenosylcobinamide-phosphate and adenosylcobinamide-GDP, not adenosylcobinamide. Therefore, NTP:adenosylcobinamide kinase activity is not required for de novo cobamide biosynthesis.
The archaeal plasma membrane consists mainly of diether lipids and tetraether lipids instead of the usual ester lipids found in other organisms. Although a molecule of tetraether lipid is thought to be synthesized from two molecules of diether lipids, there is no direct information about the biosynthetic pathway(s) or intermediates of tetraether lipid biosynthesis. In this study, we examined the effects of the fungal squalene epoxidase inhibitor terbinafine on the growth and ether lipid biosyntheses in the thermoacidophilic archaeon Thermoplasma acidophilum. Terbinafine was found to inhibit the growth of T. acidophilum in a concentration-dependent manner. When growing T. acidophilum cells were pulse-labeled with [2-14C]mevalonic acid in the presence of terbinafine, incorporation of radioactivity into the tetraether lipid fraction was strongly suppressed, while accumulation of radioactivity was noted at the position corresponding to diether lipids, depending on the concentration of terbinafine. After the cells were washed with fresh medium and incubated further without the radiolabeled substrate and the inhibitor, the accumulated radioactivity in the diether lipid fraction decreased quickly while that in the tetraether lipids increased simultaneously, without significant changes in the total radioactivity of ether lipids. These results strongly suggest that terbinafine inhibits the biosynthesis of tetraether lipids from a diether-type precursor lipid(s). The terbinafine treatment will be a tool for dissecting tetraether lipid biosynthesis in T. acidophilum.
Cellular membrane lipids, of which phospholipids are the major
constituents, form one of the characteristic features that distinguish
Archaea from other organisms. In this study, we focused on the steps
in archaeal phospholipid synthetic pathways that generate polar lipids
such as archaetidylserine, archaetidylglycerol, and
archaetidylinositol. Only archaetidylserine synthase (ASS),
from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus,has been experimentally identified. Other enzymes have not
been fully examined. Through database searching, we detected many
archaeal hypothetical proteins that show sequence similarity to
members of the CDP alcohol phosphatidyltransferase family, such as
phosphatidylserine synthase (PSS), phosphatidylglycerol synthase (PGS)
and phosphatidylinositol synthase (PIS) derived from Bacteria and
Eukarya. The archaeal hypothetical proteins were classified into two
groups, based on the sequence similarity. Members of the first group,
including ASS from M. thermautotrophicus, were
closely related to PSS. The rough agreement between PSS homologue
distribution within Archaea and the experimentally identified
distribution of archaetidylserine suggested that the hypothetical
proteins are ASSs. We found that an open reading frame (ORF) tends to
be adjacent to that of ASS in the genome, and that the order of the
two ORFs is conserved. The sequence similarity of phosphatidylserine
decarboxylase to the product of the ORF next to the ASS gene, together
with the genomic context conservation, suggests that the ORF encodes
archaetidylserine decarboxylase, which may transform archaetidylserine
to archaetidylethanolamine. The second group of archaeal hypothetical
proteins was related to PGS and PIS. The members of this group were
subjected to molecular phylogenetic analysis, together with PGSs and
PISs and it was found that they formed two distinct clusters in the
molecular phylogenetic tree. The distribution of members of each
cluster within Archaea roughly corresponded to the experimentally
identified distribution of archaetidylglycerol or archaetidylinositol.
The molecular phylogenetic tree patterns and the correspondence to the
membrane compositions suggest that the two clusters in this group
correspond to archaetidylglycerol synthases and archaetidylinositol
synthases. No archaeal hypothetical protein with sequence similarity
to known phosphatidylcholine synthases was detected in this study.
archaetidylcholine; archaetidylglycerol; archaetidylinositol; archaetidylserine; genomic context; phylogenetic tree
Novel cardiolipins from Archaea were detected by screening the intact polar lipid (IPL) composition of microbial communities associated with methane seepage in deep-sea sediments from the Pakistan margin by high-performance liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. A series of tentatively identified cardiolipin analogues (dimeric phospholipids or bisphosphatidylglycerol, BPG) represented 0.5% to 5% of total archaeal IPLs. These molecules are similar to the recently described cardiolipin analogues with four phytanyl chains from extreme halophilic archaea. It is worth noting that cardiolipin analogues from the seep archaeal communities are composed of four isoprenoidal chains, which may contain differences in chain length (20 and 25 carbon atoms) and degrees of unsaturation and the presence of a hydroxyl group. Two novel diether lipids, structurally related to the BPGs, are described and interpreted as degradation products of archaeal cardiolipin analogues. Since archaeal communities in seep sediments are dominated by anaerobic methanotrophs, our observations have implications for characterizing structural components of archaeal membranes, in which BPGs are presumed to contribute to modulation of cell permeability properties. Whether BPGs facilitate interspecies interaction in syntrophic methanotrophic consortia remains to be tested.
Shikimate kinase (EC 126.96.36.199) is a committed enzyme in the seven-step biosynthesis of chorismate, a major precursor of aromatic amino acids and many other aromatic compounds. Genes for all enzymes of the chorismate pathway except shikimate kinase are found in archaeal genomes by sequence homology to their bacterial counterparts. In this study, a conserved archaeal gene (gi|1500322 in Methanococcus jannaschii) was identified as the best candidate for the missing shikimate kinase gene by the analysis of chromosomal clustering of chorismate biosynthetic genes. The encoded hypothetical protein, with no sequence similarity to bacterial and eukaryotic shikimate kinases, is distantly related to homoserine kinases (EC 188.8.131.52) of the GHMP-kinase superfamily. The latter functionality in M. jannaschii is assigned to another gene (gi|1591748), in agreement with sequence similarity and chromosomal clustering analysis. Both archaeal proteins, overexpressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity, displayed activity of the predicted type, with steady-state kinetic parameters similar to those of the corresponding bacterial kinases: Km,shikimate = 414 ± 33 μM, Km,ATP = 48 ± 4 μM, and kcat = 57 ± 2 s−1 for the predicted shikimate kinase and Km,homoserine = 188 ± 37 μM, Km,ATP = 101 ± 7 μM, and kcat = 28 ± 1 s−1 for the homoserine kinase. No overlapping activity could be detected between shikimate kinase and homoserine kinase, both revealing a >1,000-fold preference for their own specific substrates. The case of archaeal shikimate kinase illustrates the efficacy of techniques based on reconstruction of metabolism from genomic data and analysis of gene clustering on chromosomes in finding missing genes.
Diether and tetraether lipids are fundamental components of the archaeal cell membrane. Archaea adjust the degree of tetraether lipid cyclization in order to maintain functional membranes and cellular homeostasis when confronted with pH and/or thermal stress. Thus, the ability to adjust tetraether lipid composition likely represents a critical phenotypic trait that enabled archaeal diversification into environments characterized by extremes in pH and/or temperature. Here we assess the relationship between geochemical variation, core- and polar-isoprenoid glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraether (C-iGDGT and P-iGDGT, respectively) lipid composition, and archaeal 16S rRNA gene diversity and abundance in 27 geothermal springs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The composition and abundance of C-iGDGT and P-iGDGT lipids recovered from geothermal ecosystems were distinct from surrounding soils, indicating that they are synthesized endogenously. With the exception of GDGT-0 (no cyclopentyl rings), the abundances of individual C-iGDGT and P-iGDGT lipids were significantly correlated. The abundance of a number of individual tetraether lipids varied positively with the relative abundance of individual 16S rRNA gene sequences, most notably crenarchaeol in both the core and polar GDGT fraction and sequences closely affiliated with Candidatus Nitrosocaldus yellowstonii. This finding supports the proposal that crenarchaeol is a biomarker for nitrifying archaea. Variation in the degree of cyclization of C- and P-iGDGT lipids recovered from geothermal mats and sediments could best be explained by variation in spring pH, with lipids from acidic environments tending to have, on average, more internal cyclic rings than those from higher pH ecosystems. Likewise, variation in the phylogenetic composition of archaeal 16S rRNA genes could best be explained by spring pH. In turn, the phylogenetic similarity of archaeal 16S rRNA genes was significantly correlated with the similarity in the composition of C- and P-iGDGT lipids. Taken together, these data suggest that the ability to adjust the composition of GDGT lipid membranes played a central role in the diversification of archaea into or out of environments characterized by extremes of low pH and high temperature.
tetraether lipids; Nitrosocaldus; amoA; nitrification; crenarchaeol; community ecology; phylogenetic ecology
Mevalonate kinase deficiency (MKD) is an autoinflammatory disorder caused by mutations in the MVK gene resulting in decreased activity of the enzyme mevalonate kinase (MK). Although MK is required for biosynthesis of all isoprenoids, in MKD, in particular, the timely synthesis of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate appears to be compromised. Because small guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) depend on geranylgeranylation for their proper signaling function, we studied the effect of MK deficiency on geranylgeranylation and activation of the two small GTPases, RhoA and Rac1. We demonstrate that both geranylgeranylation and activation of the two GTPases are more easily disturbed in MKD cells than in control cells when the flux though the isoprenoid biosynthesis pathway is suppressed by low concentrations of simvastatin. The limited capacity of geranylgeranylation in MKD cells readily leads to markedly increased levels of nonisoprenylated and activated GTPases, which will affect proper signaling by these GTPases.
We present a genome-scale metabolic model for the archaeal methanogen Methanosarcina barkeri. We characterize the metabolic network and compare it to reconstructions from the prokaryotic, eukaryotic and archaeal domains. Using the model in conjunction with constraint-based methods, we simulate the metabolic fluxes and resulting phenotypes induced by different environmental and genetic conditions. This represents the first large-scale simulation of either a methanogen or an archaeal species. Model predictions are validated by comparison to experimental growth measurements and phenotypes of M. barkeri on different substrates. The predicted growth phenotypes for wild type and mutants of the methanogenic pathway have a high level of agreement with experimental findings. We further examine the efficiency of the energy-conserving reactions in the methanogenic pathway, specifically the Ech hydrogenase reaction, and determine a stoichiometry for the nitrogenase reaction. This work demonstrates that a reconstructed metabolic network can serve as an analysis platform to predict cellular phenotypes, characterize methanogenic growth, improve the genome annotation and further uncover the metabolic characteristics of methanogenesis.
archaeal metabolism; metabolic modeling; methanogenesis; Methanosarcina barkeri; network reconstruction
Cronobacter sakazakii could form yellow-pigmented colonies. However, the chemical structure and the biosynthetic pathway of the yellow pigments have not been identified. In this study, the yellow pigments of C. sakazakii BAA894 were purified and analyzed. The major components of the yellow pigments were confirmed as zeaxanthin-monoglycoside and zeaxanthin-diglycoside. A gene cluster containing seven genes responsible for the yellow pigmentation in C. sakazakii BAA894 was identified. The seven genes of C. sakazakii BAA894 or parts of them were reconstructed in a heterologous host Escherichia coli DH5α. The pigments formed in these E. coli strains were isolated and analyzed by thin layer chromatography, UV-visible spectroscopy, high performance liquid chromatography, and electron spray ionization-mass spectrometry. These redesigned E. coli strains could produce different carotenoids. E. coli strain expressing all the seven genes could produce zeaxanthin-monoglycoside and zeaxanthin-diglycoside; E. coli strains expressing parts of the seven genes could produce lycopene, β-carotene, cryptoxanthin or zeaxanthin. This study identified the gene cluster responsible for the yellow pigmentation in C. sakazakii BAA894.
Many archaeal cell envelopes contain a protein coat or sheath composed of one or more surface exposed proteins. These surface layer (S-layer) proteins contribute structural integrity and protect the lipid membrane from environmental challenges. To explore the species diversity of these layers in the Methanosarcinaceae, the major S-layer protein in Methanosarcina barkeri strain Fusaro was identified using proteomics. The Mbar_A1758 gene product was present in multiple forms with apparent sizes of 130, 120, and 100 kDa, consistent with post-translational modifications including signal peptide excision and protein glycosylation. A protein with features related to the surface layer proteins found in Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A and Methanosarcina mazei Goel was identified in the M. barkeri genome. These data reveal a distinct conserved protein signature with features and implied cell surface architecture in the Methanosarcinaceae that is absent in other archaea. Paralogous gene expression patterns in two Methanosarcina species revealed abundant expression of a single S-layer paralog in each strain. Respective promoter elements were identified and shown to be conserved in mRNA coding and upstream untranslated regions. Prior M. acetivorans genome annotations assigned S-layer or surface layer associated roles of eighty genes: however, of 68 examined none was significantly expressed relative to the experimentally determined S-layer gene.
In Methanosarcina spp., amber codons in methylamine methyltransferase genes are translated as the 22nd amino acid, pyrrolysine. The responsible pyl genes plus amber-codon containing methyltransferase genes have been identified in four archaeal and five bacterial genera, including one human pathogen. In E. coli, the recombinant pylBCD gene products biosynthesize pyrrolysine from two lysine and the pylTS gene products direct pyrrolysine incorporation into protein. In the proposed biosynthetic pathway, PylB forms methylornithine from lysine, which is joined to another lysine by PylC, and oxidized to pyrrolysine by PylD. Structures of the catalytic domain of pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase (archaeal PylS or bacterial PylSc) revealed binding sites for tRNAPyl and pyrrolysine. PylS and tRNAPyl are now being exploited as an orthogonal pair in recombinant systems for introduction of useful modified amino acids into proteins.