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1.  Geranylgeranyl Reductase and Ferredoxin from Methanosarcina acetivorans Are Required for the Synthesis of Fully Reduced Archaeal Membrane Lipid in Escherichia coli Cells 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(2):417-423.
Archaea produce membrane lipids that typically possess fully saturated isoprenoid hydrocarbon chains attached to the glycerol moiety via ether bonds. They are functionally similar to, but structurally and biosynthetically distinct from, the fatty acid-based membrane lipids of bacteria and eukaryotes. It is believed that the characteristic lipid structure helps archaea survive under severe conditions such as extremely low or high pH, high salt concentrations, and/or high temperatures. We detail here the first successful production of an intact archaeal membrane lipid, which has fully saturated isoprenoid chains, in bacterial cells. The introduction of six phospholipid biosynthetic genes from a methanogenic archaeon, Methanosarcina acetivorans, in Escherichia coli enabled the host bacterium to synthesize the archaeal lipid, i.e., diphytanylglyceryl phosphoglycerol, while a glycerol modification of the phosphate group was probably catalyzed by endogenous E. coli enzymes. Reduction of the isoprenoid chains occurred only when archaeal ferredoxin was expressed with geranylgeranyl reductase, suggesting the role of ferredoxin as a specific electron donor for the reductase. This report is the first identification of a physiological reducer for archaeal geranylgeranyl reductase. On the other hand, geranylgeranyl reductase from the thermoacidophilic archaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius could, by itself, replace both its orthologue and ferredoxin from M. acetivorans, which indicated that an endogenous redox system of E. coli reduced the enzyme.
doi:10.1128/JB.00927-13
PMCID: PMC3911245  PMID: 24214941
2.  Biosynthesis of archaeal membrane ether lipids 
A vital function of the cell membrane in all living organism is to maintain the membrane permeability barrier and fluidity. The composition of the phospholipid bilayer is distinct in archaea when compared to bacteria and eukarya. In archaea, isoprenoid hydrocarbon side chains are linked via an ether bond to the sn-glycerol-1-phosphate backbone. In bacteria and eukarya on the other hand, fatty acid side chains are linked via an ester bond to the sn-glycerol-3-phosphate backbone. The polar head groups are globally shared in the three domains of life. The unique membrane lipids of archaea have been implicated not only in the survival and adaptation of the organisms to extreme environments but also to form the basis of the membrane composition of the last universal common ancestor (LUCA). In nature, a diverse range of archaeal lipids is found, the most common are the diether (or archaeol) and the tetraether (or caldarchaeol) lipids that form a monolayer. Variations in chain length, cyclization and other modifications lead to diversification of these lipids. The biosynthesis of these lipids is not yet well understood however progress in the last decade has led to a comprehensive understanding of the biosynthesis of archaeol. This review describes the current knowledge of the biosynthetic pathway of archaeal ether lipids; insights on the stability and robustness of archaeal lipid membranes; and evolutionary aspects of the lipid divide and the LUCA. It examines recent advances made in the field of pathway reconstruction in bacteria.
doi:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00641
PMCID: PMC4244643  PMID: 25505460
archaea; ether lipids; isoprenoids; biosynthesis; lipid divide
3.  Biosynthesis of Ether-Type Polar Lipids in Archaea and Evolutionary Considerations 
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.
doi:10.1128/MMBR.00033-06
PMCID: PMC1847378  PMID: 17347520
4.  Cold Adaptation in the Antarctic Archaeon Methanococcoides burtonii Involves Membrane Lipid Unsaturation 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(24):8508-8515.
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.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.24.8508-8515.2004
PMCID: PMC532414  PMID: 15576801
5.  CDP-2,3-Di-O-Geranylgeranyl-sn-Glycerol:l-Serine O-Archaetidyltransferase (Archaetidylserine Synthase) in the Methanogenic Archaeon Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(4):1181-1189.
CDP-2,3-di-O-geranylgeranyl-sn-glycerol:l-serine O-archaetidyltransferase (archaetidylserine synthase) activity in cell extracts of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus cells was characterized. The enzyme catalyzed the formation of unsaturated archaetidylserine from CDP-unsaturated archaeol and l-serine. The identity of the reaction products was confirmed by thin-layer chromatography, fast atom bombardment-mass spectrum analysis, and chemical degradation. The enzyme showed maximal activity in the presence of 10 mM Mn2+ and 1% Triton X-100. Among various synthetic substrate analogs, both enantiomers of CDP-unsaturated archaeols with ether-linked geranylgeranyl chains and CDP-saturated archaeol with ether-linked phytanyl chains were similarly active toward the archaetidylserine synthase. The activity on the ester analog of the substrate was two to three times higher than that on the corresponding ether-type substrate. The activity of d-serine with the enzyme was 30% of that observed for l-serine. A trace amount of an acid-labile, unsaturated archaetidylserine intermediate was detected in the cells by a pulse-labeling experiment. A gene (MT1027) in M. thermautotrophicus genome annotated as the gene encoding phosphatidylserine synthase was found to be homologous to Bacillus subtilis pssA but not to Escherichia coli pssA. The substrate specificity of phosphatidylserine synthase from B. subtilis was quite similar to that observed for the M. thermautotrophicus archaetidylserine synthase, while the E. coli enzyme had a strong preference for CDP-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol. It was concluded that M. thermautotrophicus archaetidylserine synthase belongs to subclass II phosphatidylserine synthase (B. subtilis type) on the basis of not only homology but also substrate specificity and some enzymatic properties. The possibility that a gene encoding the subclass II phosphatidylserine synthase might be transferred from a bacterium to an ancestor of methanogens is discussed.
doi:10.1128/JB.185.4.1181-1189.2003
PMCID: PMC142863  PMID: 12562787
6.  Acetamido Sugar Biosynthesis in the Euryarchaea▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(8):2987-2996.
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.
doi:10.1128/JB.01970-07
PMCID: PMC2293230  PMID: 18263721
7.  Chemical combinations elucidate pathway interactions and regulation relevant to Hepatitis C replication 
SREBP-2, oxidosqualene cyclase (OSC) or lanosterol demethylase were identified as novel sterol pathway-associated targets that, when probed with chemical agents, can inhibit hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication.Using a combination chemical genetics approach, combinations of chemicals targeting sterol pathway enzymes downstream of and including OSC or protein geranylgeranyl transferase I (PGGT) produce robust and selective synergistic inhibition of HCV replication. Inhibition of enzymes upstream of OSC elicit proviral responses that are dominant to the effects of inhibiting all downstream targets.Inhibition of the sterol pathway without inhibition of regulatory feedback mechanisms ultimately results in an increase in HCV replication because of a compensatory upregulation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) expression. Increases in HMGCR expression without inhibition of HMGCR enzymatic activity ultimately stimulate HCV replication through increasing the cellular pool of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP).Chemical inhibitors that ultimately prevent SREBP-2 activation, inhibit PGGT or encourage the production of polar sterols have great potential as HCV therapeutics if associated toxicities can be reduced.
Chemical inhibition of enzymes in either the cholesterol or the fatty acid biosynthetic pathways has been shown to impact viral replication, both positively and negatively (Su et al, 2002; Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Sagan et al, 2006; Amemiya et al, 2008). FBL2 has been identified as a 50 kDa geranylgeranylated host protein that is necessary for localization of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication complex to the membranous web through its close association with the HCV protein NS5A and is critical for HCV replication (Wang et al, 2005). Inhibition of the protein geranylgeranyl transferase I (PGGT), an enzyme that transfers geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) to cellular proteins such as FBL2 for the purpose of membrane anchoring, negatively impacts HCV replication (Ye et al, 2003). Conversely, chemical agents that increase intracellular GGPP concentrations promote viral replication (Kapadia and Chisari, 2005). Statin compounds that inhibit 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR), the rate-limiting enzyme in the sterol pathway (Goldstein and Brown, 1990), have been suggested to inhibit HCV replication through ultimately reducing the cellular pool of GGPP (Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Ikeda et al, 2006). However, inhibition of the sterol pathway with statin drugs has not yielded consistent results in patients. The use of statins for the treatment of HCV is likely to be complicated by the reported compensatory increase in HMGCR expression in vitro and in vivo (Stone et al, 1989; Cohen et al, 1993) in response to treatment. Enzymes in the sterol pathway are regulated on a transcriptional level by sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), specifically SREBP-2 (Hua et al, 1993; Brown and Goldstein, 1997). When cholesterol stores in cells are depleted, SREBP-2 activates transcription of genes in the sterol pathway such as HMGCR, HMG-CoA synthase, farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) synthase, squalene synthase (SQLS) and the LDL receptor (Smith et al, 1988, 1990; Sakai et al, 1996; Brown and Goldstein, 1999; Horton et al, 2002). The requirement of additional downstream sterol pathway metabolites for HCV replication has not been completely elucidated.
To further understand the impact of the sterol pathway and its regulation on HCV replication, we conducted a high-throughput combination chemical genetic screen using 16 chemical probes that are known to modulate the activity of target enzymes relating to the sterol biosynthesis pathway (Figure 1). Using this approach, we identified several novel antiviral targets including SREBP-2 as well as targets downstream of HMGCR in the sterol pathway such as oxidosqualene cyclase (OSC) and lanosterol demethylase. Many of our chemical probes, specifically SR-12813, farnesol and squalestatin, strongly promoted replicon replication. The actions of both farnesol and squalestatin ultimately result in an increase in the cellular pool of GGPP, which is known to increase HCV replication (Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Wang et al, 2005).
Chemical combinations targeting enzymes upstream of squalene epoxidase (SQLE) at the top of the sterol pathway (Figure 4A) elicited Bateson-type epistatic responses (Boone et al, 2007), where the upstream agent's response predominates over the effects of inhibiting all downstream targets. This was especially notable for combinations including simvastatin and either U18666A or squalestatin, and for squalestatin in combination with Ro48-8071. Treatment with squalestatin prevents the SQLS substrate, farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) from being further metabolized by the sterol pathway. As FPP concentrations increase, the metabolite can be shunted away from the sterol pathway toward farnesylation and GGPP synthetic pathways, resulting in an increase in host protein geranylgeranylation, including FBL2, and consequently replicon replication. This increase in replicon replication explains the source of the observed epistasis over Ro48-8071 treatment.
Combinations between probes targeting enzymes downstream of and including OSC produced robust synergies with each other or with a PGGT inhibitor. Figure 4B highlights examples of antiviral synergy resulting from treatment of cells with an OSC inhibitor in combination with an inhibitor of either an enzyme upstream or downstream of OSC. A combination of terconazole and U18666A is synergistic without similar combination effects in the host proliferation screen. Likewise, clomiphene was also synergistic when added to replicon cells in combination with U18666A. One of the greatest synergies observed downstream in the sterol pathway is a combination of amorolfine and AY 9944, suggesting that there is value in developing combinations of drugs that target enzymes in the sterol pathway, which are downstream of HMGCR.
Interactions with the protein prenylation pathway also showed strong mechanistic patterns (Figure 4C). GGTI-286 is a peptidomimetic compound resembling the CAAX domain of a protein to be geranylgeranylated and is a competitive inhibitor of protein geranylgeranylation. Simvastatin impedes the antiviral effect of GGTI-286 at low concentrations but that antagonism is balanced by comparable synergy at higher concentrations. At the low simvastatin concentrations, a compensatory increase in HMGCR expression leads to increased cellular levels of GGPP, which are likely to result in an increase in PGGT enzymatic turnover and decreased GGTI-286 efficacy. The antiviral synergy observed at the higher inhibitor concentrations is likely nonspecific as synergy was also observed in a host viability assay. Further downstream, however, a competitive interaction was observed between GGTI-286 and squalestatin, where the opposing effect of one compound obscures the other compound's effect. This competitive relationship between GGTI and SQLE explains the epistatic response observed between those two agents. For inhibitors of targets downstream of OSC, such as amorolfine, there are strong antiviral synergies with GGTI-286. Notably, combinations with OSC inhibitors and GGTI-286 were selective, in that comparable synergy was not found in a host viability assay. This selectivity suggests that jointly targeting OSC and PGGT is a promising avenue for future HCV therapy development.
This study provides a comprehensive and unique perspective into the impact of sterol pathway regulation on HCV replication and provides compelling insight into the use of chemical combinations to maximize antiviral effects while minimizing proviral consequences. Our results suggest that HCV therapeutics developed against sterol pathway targets must consider the impact on underlying sterol pathway regulation. We found combinations of inhibitors of the lower part of the sterol pathway that are effective and synergistic with each other when tested in combination. Furthermore, the combination effects observed with simvastatin suggest that, though statins inhibit HMGCR activity, the resulting regulatory consequences of such inhibition ultimately lead to undesirable epistatic effects. Inhibitors that prevent SREBP-2 activation, inhibit PGGT or encourage the production of polar sterols have great potential as HCV therapeutics if associated toxicities can be reduced.
The search for effective Hepatitis C antiviral therapies has recently focused on host sterol metabolism and protein prenylation pathways that indirectly affect viral replication. However, inhibition of the sterol pathway with statin drugs has not yielded consistent results in patients. Here, we present a combination chemical genetic study to explore how the sterol and protein prenylation pathways work together to affect hepatitis C viral replication in a replicon assay. In addition to finding novel targets affecting viral replication, our data suggest that the viral replication is strongly affected by sterol pathway regulation. There is a marked transition from antagonistic to synergistic antiviral effects as the combination targets shift downstream along the sterol pathway. We also show how pathway regulation frustrates potential hepatitis C therapies based on the sterol pathway, and reveal novel synergies that selectively inhibit hepatitis C replication over host toxicity. In particular, combinations targeting the downstream sterol pathway enzymes produced robust and selective synergistic inhibition of hepatitis C replication. Our findings show how combination chemical genetics can reveal critical pathway connections relevant to viral replication, and can identify potential treatments with an increased therapeutic window.
doi:10.1038/msb.2010.32
PMCID: PMC2913396  PMID: 20531405
chemical genetics; combinations and synergy; hepatitis C; replicon; sterol biosynthesis
8.  Modified Pathway To Synthesize Ribulose 1,5-Bisphosphate in Methanogenic Archaea 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(19):6360-6366.
Several sequencing projects unexpectedly uncovered the presence of genes that encode ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO) in anaerobic archaea. RubisCO is the key enzyme of the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) reductive pentose phosphate pathway, a scheme that does not appear to contribute greatly, if at all, to net CO2 assimilation in these organisms. Recombinant forms of the archaeal enzymes do, however, catalyze a bona fide RuBP-dependent CO2 fixation reaction, and it was recently shown that Methanocaldococcus (Methanococcus) jannaschii and other anaerobic archaea synthesize catalytically active RubisCO in vivo. To complete the CBB pathway, there is a need for an enzyme, i.e., phosphoribulokinase (PRK), to catalyze the formation of RuBP, the substrate for the RubisCO reaction. Homology searches, as well as direct enzymatic assays with M. jannaschii, failed to reveal the presence of PRK. The apparent lack of PRK raised the possibility that either there is an alternative pathway to generate RuBP or RubisCO might use an alternative substrate in vivo. In the present study, direct enzymatic assays performed with alternative substrates and extracts of M. jannsachii provided evidence for a previously uncharacterized pathway for RuBP synthesis from 5-phospho-d-ribose-1-pyrophosphate (PRPP) in M. jannaschii and other methanogenic archaea. Proteins and genes involved in the catalytic conversion of PRPP to RuBP were identified in M. jannaschii (Mj0601) and Methanosarcina acetivorans (Ma2851), and recombinant Ma2851 was active in extracts of Escherichia coli. Thus, in this work we identified a novel means to synthesize the CO2 acceptor and substrate for RubisCO in the absence of a detectable kinase, such as PRK. We suggest that the conversion of PRPP to RuBP might be an evolutional link between purine recycling pathways and the CBB scheme.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.19.6360-6366.2004
PMCID: PMC516590  PMID: 15375115
9.  Biosynthesis of Phosphoserine in the Methanococcales▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;189(2):575-582.
Methanococcus maripaludis and Methanocaldococcus jannaschii produce cysteine for protein synthesis using a tRNA-dependent pathway. These methanogens charge tRNACys with l-phosphoserine, which is also an intermediate in the predicted pathways for serine and cystathionine biosynthesis. To establish the mode of phosphoserine production in Methanococcales, cell extracts of M. maripaludis were shown to have phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase and phosphoserine aminotransferase activities. The heterologously expressed and purified phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase from M. maripaludis had enzymological properties similar to those of its bacterial homologs but was poorly inhibited by serine. While bacterial enzymes are inhibited by micromolar concentrations of serine bound to an allosteric site, the low sensitivity of the archaeal protein to serine is consistent with phosphoserine's position as a branch point in several pathways. A broad-specificity class V aspartate aminotransferase from M. jannaschii converted the phosphohydroxypyruvate product to phosphoserine. This enzyme catalyzed the transamination of aspartate, glutamate, phosphoserine, alanine, and cysteate. The M. maripaludis homolog complemented a serC mutation in the Escherichia coli phosphoserine aminotransferase. All methanogenic archaea apparently share this pathway, providing sufficient phosphoserine for the tRNA-dependent cysteine biosynthetic pathway.
doi:10.1128/JB.01269-06
PMCID: PMC1797378  PMID: 17071763
10.  Archaeal Shikimate Kinase, a New Member of the GHMP-Kinase Family 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(1):292-300.
Shikimate kinase (EC 2.7.1.71) 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 2.7.1.39) 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.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.1.292-300.2001
PMCID: PMC94878  PMID: 11114929
11.  Insights into substrate specificity of geranylgeranyl reductases revealed by the structure of digeranylgeranylglycerophospholipid reductase from Thermoplasma acidophilum, an essential enzyme in the biosynthesis of archaeal membrane lipids 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;404(3):403-417.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2010.09.032
PMCID: PMC3008412  PMID: 20869368
12.  Novel Medium-Chain Prenyl Diphosphate Synthase from the Thermoacidophilic Archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(3):615-620.
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.
doi:10.1128/JB.184.3.615-620.2002
PMCID: PMC139513  PMID: 11790729
13.  Ether polar lipids of methanogenic bacteria: structures, comparative aspects, and biosyntheses. 
Microbiological Reviews  1993;57(1):164-182.
Complete structures of nearly 40 ether polar lipids from seven species of methanogens have been elucidated during the past 10 years. Three kinds of variations of core lipids, macrocyclic archaeol and two hydroxyarchaeols, were identified, in addition to the usual archaeol and caldarchaeol (for the nomenclature of archaeal [archaebacterial] ether lipids, see the text). Polar head groups of methanogen phospholipids include ethanolamine, serine, inositol, N-acetylglucosamine, dimethyl- and trimethylaminopentanetetrol, and glucosaminylinositol. Glucose is the sole hexose moiety of glycolipids in most methanogens, and galactose and mannose have been found in a few species. Methanogen lipids are characterized by their diversity in phosphate-containing polar head groups and core lipids, which in turn can be used for chemotaxonomy of methanogens. This was shown by preliminary simplified analyses of lipid component residues. Core lipid analysis by high-pressure liquid chromatography provides a method of determining the methanogenic biomass in natural samples. There has been significant progress in the biosynthetic studies of methanogen lipids in recent years. In vivo incorporation experiments have led to delineation of the outline of the synthetic route of the diphytanylglycerol ether core. The mechanisms of biosynthesis of tetraether lipids and various polar lipids, and cell-free systems of either lipid synthesis, however, remain to be elucidated. The significance and the origin of archaeal ether lipids is discussed in terms of the lipid composition of bacteria living in a wide variety of environments, the oxygen requirement for biosynthesis of hydrocarbon chains, and the physicochemical properties and functions of lipids as membrane constituents.
PMCID: PMC372904  PMID: 8464404
14.  Elucidation of the Erwinia uredovora carotenoid biosynthetic pathway by functional analysis of gene products expressed in Escherichia coli. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1990;172(12):6704-6712.
The most important function of carotenoid pigments, especially beta-carotene in higher plants, is to protect organisms against photooxidative damage (G. Britton, in T. W. Goodwin, ed., Plant Pigments--1988, 1988; N. I. Krinsky, in O. Isler, H. Gutmann, and U. Solms, ed., Carotenoids--1971, 1971). beta-Carotene also functions as a precursor of vitamin A in mammals (G. A. J. Pitt, in I. Osler, H. Gutmann, and U. Solms, ed., Carotenoids--1971, 1971). The enzymes and genes which mediate the biosynthesis of cyclic carotenoids such as beta-carotene are virtually unknown. We have elucidated for the first time the pathway for biosynthesis of these carotenoids at the level of enzyme-catalyzed reactions, using bacterial carotenoid biosynthesis genes. These genes were cloned from a phytopathogenic bacterium, Erwinia uredovora 20D3 (ATCC 19321), in Escherichia coli and located on a 6,918-bp fragment whose nucleotide sequence was determined. Six open reading frames were found and designated the crtE, crtX, crtY, crtI, crtB, and crtZ genes in reference to the carotenoid biosynthesis genes of a photosynthetic bacterium, Rhodobacter capsulatus; only crtZ had the opposite orientation from the others. The carotenoid biosynthetic pathway in Erwinia uredovora was clarified by analyzing carotenoids accumulated in E. coli transformants in which some of these six genes were expressed, as follows: geranylgeranyl PPiCrtB----prephytoene PPiCrtE----phytoeneCrtI---- lycopeneCrtY----beta-caroteneCrtZ----zeaxanthinCrtX--- -zeaxanthin-beta- diglucoside. The carotenoids in this pathway appear to be close to those in higher plants rather than to those in bacteria. Also significant is that only one gene product (CrtI) for the conversion of phytoene to lycopene is required, a conversion in which four sequential desaturations should occur via the intermediates phytofluene, zeta-carotene, and neurosporene.
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PMCID: PMC210783  PMID: 2254247
15.  Phosphatidic Acid Synthesis in Bacteria 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1831(3):495-502.
Membrane phospholipid synthesis is a vital facet of bacterial physiology. Although the spectrum of phospholipid headgroup structures produced by bacteria is large, the key precursor to all of these molecules is phosphatidic acid (PtdOH). Glycerol-3-phosphate derived from the glycolysis via glycerol-phosphate synthase is the universal source for the glycerol backbone of PtdOH. There are two distinct families of enzymes responsible for the acylation of the 1-position of glycerol-3-phosphate. The PlsB acyltransferase was discovered in Escherichia coli, and homologs are present in many eukaryotes. This protein family primarily uses acyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) endproducts of fatty acid synthesis as acyl donors, but may also use acyl-CoA derived from exogenous fatty acids. The second protein family, PlsY, is more widely distributed in bacteria and utilizes the unique acyl donor, acyl-phosphate, which is produced from acyl-ACP by the enzyme PlsX. The acylation of the 2-position is carried out by members of the PlsC protein family. All PlsCs use acyl-ACP as the acyl donor, although the PlsCs of the γ-proteobacteria also may use acyl-CoA. Phospholipid headgroups are precursors in the biosynthesis of other membrane-associated molecules and the diacylglycerol product of these reactions is converted to PtdOH by one of two distinct families of lipid kinases. The central importance of the de novo and recycling pathways to PtdOH in cell physiology suggest these enzymes are suitable targets for the development of antibacterial therapeutics in Gram-positive pathogens. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Phospholipids and Phospholipid Metabolism.
doi:10.1016/j.bbalip.2012.08.018
PMCID: PMC3548993  PMID: 22981714
bacteria; acyltransferase; phosphatidic acid; glycerol-phosphate; acyl carrier protein; coenzyme A; diacylglycerol
16.  Functional Analysis of the Galactosyltransferases Required for Biosynthesis of d-Galactan I, a Component of the Lipopolysaccharide O1 Antigen of Klebsiella pneumoniae 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(11):3318-3327.
d-Galactan I is an O-antigenic polymer with the repeat unit structure [→3)-β-d-Galf-(1→3)-α-d-Galp-(1→], that is found in the lipopolysaccharide of Klebsiella pneumoniae O1 and other gram-negative bacteria. A genetic locus containing six genes is responsible for the synthesis and assembly of d-galactan I via an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter-dependent pathway. The galactosyltransferase activities that are required for the processive polymerization of d-galactan I were identified by using in vitro reactions. The activities were determined with endogenous lipid acceptors in membrane preparations from Escherichia coli K-12 expressing individual enzymes (or combinations of enzymes) or in membranes reconstituted with specific lipid acceptors. The d-galactan I polymer is built on a lipid acceptor, undecaprenyl pyrophosphoryl-GlcpNAc, a product of the WecA enzyme that participates in the biosynthesis of enterobacterial common antigen and O-antigenic polysaccharide (O-PS) biosynthesis pathways. This intermediate is directed into d-galactan I biosynthesis by the bifunctional wbbO gene product, which sequentially adds one Galp and one Galf residue from the corresponding UDP-sugars to form a lipid-linked trisaccharide. The two galactosyltransferase activities of WbbO are separable by limiting the UDP-Galf precursor. Galactosyltransferase activity in membranes reconstituted with exogenous lipid-linked trisaccharide acceptor and the known structure of d-galactan I indicate that WbbM catalyzes the subsequent transfer of a single Galp residue to form a lipid-linked tetrasaccharide. Chain extension of the d-galactan I polymer requires WbbM for Galp transferase, together with Galf transferase activity provided by WbbO. Comparison of the biosynthetic pathways for d-galactan I and the polymannose E. coli O9a antigen reveals some interesting features that may reflect a common theme in ABC transporter-dependent O-PS assembly systems.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.11.3318-3327.2001
PMCID: PMC99629  PMID: 11344139
17.  Biosynthesis of membrane-derived oligosaccharides: characterization of mdoB mutants defective in phosphoglycerol transferase I activity. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1984;160(3):976-981.
Phosphoglycerol transferase I, an enzyme of the inner, cytoplasmic membrane of Escherichia coli, catalyzes the in vitro transfer of phosphoglycerol residues from phosphatidylglycerol to membrane-derived oligosaccharides or to the model substrate arbutin (p-hydroxyphenyl-beta-D-glucoside). The products are a phosphoglycerol diester derivative of membrane-derived oligosaccharides or arbutin, respectively, and sn-1,2-diglyceride (B. J. Jackson and E. P. Kennedy, J. Biol. Chem. 258:2394-2398, 1983). Because this enzyme has its active site on the outer aspect of the inner membrane, it also catalyzes the transfer of phosphoglycerol residues to arbutin added to the medium (J.-P. Bohin and E. P. Kennedy, J. Biol. Chem. 259:8388-8393, 1984). When strains bearing the dgk mutation, which are defective in the enzyme diglyceride kinase, are grown in medium containing arbutin, they accumulate large amounts of sn-1,2-diglyceride, a product of the phosphoglycerol transferase I reaction. Growth is inhibited under these conditions. A further mutation in such a dgk strain, leading to the loss of phosphoglycerol transferase I activity, should result in the phenotype of arbutin resistance. We have exploited this fact to obtain strains with such mutations, designated mdoB, that map near min 99. Such mutants lack detectable phosphoglycerol transferase I activity, cannot transfer phosphoglycerol residues to arbutin in vivo, and synthesize membrane-derived oligosaccharides devoid of phosphoglycerol residues. These findings offer strong genetic support for the function of phosphoglycerol transferase I in membrane-derived oligosaccharide biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC215805  PMID: 6094515
18.  Induction of the Lactose Transport System in a Lipid-Synthesis-Defective Mutant of Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  1970;103(2):410-416.
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 1.1.1.8] 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.
PMCID: PMC248096  PMID: 4914567
19.  Development of β-Lactamase as a Tool for Monitoring Conditional Gene Expression by a Tetracycline-Riboswitch in Methanosarcina acetivorans 
Archaea  2014;2014:725610.
The use of reporter gene fusions to assess cellular processes such as protein targeting and regulation of transcription or translation is established technology in archaeal, bacterial, and eukaryal genetics. Fluorescent proteins or enzymes resulting in chromogenic substrate turnover, like β-galactosidase, have been particularly useful for microscopic and screening purposes. However, application of such methodology is of limited use for strictly anaerobic organisms due to the requirement of molecular oxygen for chromophore formation or color development. We have developed β-lactamase from Escherichia coli (encoded by bla) in conjunction with the chromogenic substrate nitrocefin into a reporter system usable under anaerobic conditions for the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina acetivorans. By using a signal peptide of a putative flagellin from M. acetivorans and different catabolic promoters, we could demonstrate growth substrate-dependent secretion of β-lactamase, facilitating its use in colony screening on agar plates. Furthermore, a series of fusions comprised of a constitutive promoter and sequences encoding variants of the synthetic tetracycline-responsive riboswitch (tc-RS) was created to characterize its influence on translation initiation in M. acetivorans. One tc-RS variant resulted in more than 11-fold tetracycline-dependent regulation of bla expression, which is in the range of regulation by naturally occurring riboswitches. Thus, tc-RS fusions represent the first solely cis-active, that is, factor-independent system for controlled gene expression in Archaea.
doi:10.1155/2014/725610
PMCID: PMC3942078  PMID: 24678266
20.  A Novel Pathway for the Biosynthesis of Heme in Archaea: Genome-Based Bioinformatic Predictions and Experimental Evidence 
Archaea  2010;2010:175050.
Heme is an essential prosthetic group for many proteins involved in fundamental biological processes in all three domains of life. In Eukaryota and Bacteria heme is formed via a conserved and well-studied biosynthetic pathway. Surprisingly, in Archaea heme biosynthesis proceeds via an alternative route which is poorly understood. In order to formulate a working hypothesis for this novel pathway, we searched 59 completely sequenced archaeal genomes for the presence of gene clusters consisting of established heme biosynthetic genes and colocalized conserved candidate genes. Within the majority of archaeal genomes it was possible to identify such heme biosynthesis gene clusters. From this analysis we have been able to identify several novel heme biosynthesis genes that are restricted to archaea. Intriguingly, several of the encoded proteins display similarity to enzymes involved in heme d1 biosynthesis. To initiate an experimental verification of our proposals two Methanosarcina barkeri proteins predicted to catalyze the initial steps of archaeal heme biosynthesis were recombinantly produced, purified, and their predicted enzymatic functions verified.
doi:10.1155/2010/175050
PMCID: PMC3004389  PMID: 21197080
21.  Biosynthesis of a structurally novel lipid A in Rhizobium leguminosarum: identification and characterization of six metabolic steps leading from UDP-GlcNAc to 3-deoxy-D-manno-2-octulosonic acid2-lipid IVA. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1994;176(15):4646-4655.
Lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) are prominent structural components of the outer membranes of gram-negative bacteria. In Rhizobium spp. LPS functions as a determinant of the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with legumes. LPS is anchored to the outer surface of the outer membrane by the lipid A moiety, the principal lipid component of the outer bacterial surface. Several notable structural differences exist between the lipid A of Escherichia coli and that of Rhizobium leguminosarum, suggesting that diverse biosynthetic pathways may also exist. These differences include the lack of phosphate groups and the presence of a 4'-linked GalA residue in the latter. However, we now show that UDP-GlcNAc plays a key role in the biosynthesis of lipid A in R. leguminosarum, as it does in E. coli. 32P-labeled monosaccharide and disaccharide lipid A intermediates from E. coli were isolated and tested as substrates in cell extracts of R. leguminosarum biovars phaseoli and viciae. Six enzymes that catalyze the early steps of E. coli lipid A biosynthesis were also present in extracts of R. leguminosarum. Our results show that all the enzymes of the pathway leading to the formation of the intermediate 3-deoxy-D-manno-2-octulosonic acid (Kdo2)-lipid IVA are functional in both R. leguminosarum biovars. These enzymes include (i) UDP-GlcNAc 3-O-acyltransferase; (ii) UDP-3-O-(R-3-hydroxymyristoyl)-GlcNAc deacetylase; (iii) UDP-3-O-(R-3-hydroxymyristoyl)-GlcN N-acyltransferase; (iv) disaccharide synthase; (v) 4'-kinase; and (vi) Kdo transferase. Our data suggest that the early steps in lipid A biosynthesis are conserved and that the divergence leading to rhizobial lipid A may occur at a later stage in the pathway, presumably after the attachment of the Kdo residues.
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PMCID: PMC196286  PMID: 8045896
22.  Specific Partial Reduction of Geranylgeranyl Diphosphate by an Enzyme from the Thermoacidophilic Archaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius Yields a Reactive Prenyl Donor, Not a Dead-End Product ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(11):3923-3929.
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.
doi:10.1128/JB.00082-08
PMCID: PMC2395040  PMID: 18375567
23.  Biosynthesis of 7-Deazaguanosine-Modified tRNA Nucleosides: a New Role for GTP Cyclohydrolase I▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(24):7876-7884.
Queuosine (Q) and archaeosine (G+) are hypermodified ribonucleosides found in tRNA. Q is present in the anticodon region of tRNAGUN in Eukarya and Bacteria, while G+ is found at position 15 in the D-loop of archaeal tRNA. Prokaryotes produce these 7-deazaguanosine derivatives de novo from GTP through the 7-cyano-7-deazaguanine (pre-Q0) intermediate, but mammals import the free base, queuine, obtained from the diet or the intestinal flora. By combining the results of comparative genomic analysis with those of genetic studies, we show that the first enzyme of the folate pathway, GTP cyclohydrolase I (GCYH-I), encoded in Escherichia coli by folE, is also the first enzyme of pre-Q0 biosynthesis in both prokaryotic kingdoms. Indeed, tRNA extracted from an E. coli ΔfolE strain is devoid of Q and the deficiency is complemented by expressing GCYH-I-encoding genes from different bacterial or archaeal origins. In a similar fashion, tRNA extracted from a Haloferax volcanii strain carrying a deletion of the GCYH-I-encoding gene contains only traces of G+. These results link the production of a tRNA-modified base to primary metabolism and further clarify the biosynthetic pathway for these complex modified nucleosides.
doi:10.1128/JB.00874-08
PMCID: PMC2593212  PMID: 18931107
24.  Identification of an Alternative Nucleoside Triphosphate: 5′-Deoxyadenosylcobinamide Phosphate Nucleotidyltransferase in Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum ΔH 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(15):4227-4233.
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.
PMCID: PMC101920  PMID: 10894731
25.  The A1Ao ATPase from Methanosarcina mazei: Cloning of the 5′ End of the aha Operon Encoding the Membrane Domain and Expression of the Proteolipid in a Membrane-Bound Form in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(13):3448-3452.
Three additional ATPase genes, clustered in the order ahaH, ahaI, and ahaK, were found upstream of the previously characterized genes ahaECFABDG coding for the archaeal A1Ao ATPase from Methanosarcina mazei. ahaH, the first gene in the cluster, is preceded by a conserved promoter sequence. Northern blot analysis revealed that the clusters ahaHIK and ahaECFABDG are transcribed as one message. AhaH is a hydrophilic polypeptide and is similar to peptides of previously unassigned function encoded by genes preceding postulated ATPase genes in Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum and Methanococcus jannaschii. AhaI has a two-domain structure with a hydrophilic domain of 39 kDa and a hydrophobic domain with seven predicted transmembrane α helices. It is similar to the 100-kDa polypeptide of V1Vo ATPases and is therefore suggested to participate in proton transport. AhaK is a hydrophobic polypeptide with two predicted transmembrane α helices and, on the basis of sequence comparisons and immunological studies, is identified as the proteolipid, a polypeptide which is essential for proton translocation. However, it is only one-half and one-third the size of the proteolipids from M. thermoautotrophicum and M. jannaschii, respectively. ahaK is expressed in Escherichia coli, and it is incorporated into the cytoplasmic membrane despite the different chemical natures of lipids from archaea and bacteria. This is the first report on the expression and incorporation into E. coli lipids of a membrane integral enzyme from a methanogens, which will facilitate analysis of the structure and function of the membrane domain of the methanoarchaeal ATPase.
PMCID: PMC107302  PMID: 9642200

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