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1.  Inactivation of sll1556 in Synechocystis Strain PCC 6803 Impairs Isoprenoid Biosynthesis from Pentose Phosphate Cycle Substrates In Vitro 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(14):4685-4693.
In cyanobacteria many compounds, including chlorophylls, carotenoids, and hopanoids, are synthesized from the isoprenoid precursors isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate. Isoprenoid biosynthesis in extracts of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis strain PCC 6803 grown under photosynthetic conditions, stimulated by pentose phosphate cycle substrates, does not appear to require methylerythritol phosphate pathway intermediates. The sll1556 gene, distantly related to type 2 IPP isomerase genes, was disrupted by insertion of a Kanr cassette. The mutant was fully viable under photosynthetic conditions although impaired in the utilization of pentose phosphate cycle substrates. Compared to the parental strain the Δsll1556 mutant (i) is deficient in isoprenoid biosynthesis in vitro with substrates including glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, fructose-6-phosphate, and glucose-6-phosphate; (ii) has smaller cells (diameter ca. 13% less); (iii) has fewer thylakoids (ca. 30% less); and (iv) has a more extensive fibrous outer wall layer. Isoprenoid biosynthesis is restored with pentose phosphate cycle substrates plus the recombinant Sll1556 protein in the Δsll1556 supernatant fraction. IPP isomerase activity could not be demonstrated for the purified Sll1556 protein under our in vitro conditions. The reduction of thylakoid area and the effect on outer wall layer components are consistent with an impairment of isoprenoid biosynthesis in the mutant, possibly via hopanoid biosynthesis. Our findings are consistent with an alternate metabolic shunt for biosynthesis of isoprenoids.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.14.4685-4693.2004
PMCID: PMC438581  PMID: 15231801
2.  Evidence of a Role for LytB in the Nonmevalonate Pathway of Isoprenoid Biosynthesis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(20):5841-5848.
It is proposed that the lytB gene encodes an enzyme of the deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate (DOXP) pathway that catalyzes a step at or subsequent to the point at which the pathway branches to form isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). A mutant of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis strain PCC 6803 with an insertion in the promoter region of lytB grew slowly and produced greenish-yellow, easily bleached colonies. Insertions in the coding region of lytB were lethal. Supplementation of the culture medium with the alcohol analogues of IPP and DMAPP (3-methyl-3-buten-1-ol and 3-methyl-2-buten-1-ol) completely alleviated the growth impairment of the mutant. The Synechocystis lytB gene and a lytB cDNA from the flowering plant Adonis aestivalis were each found to significantly enhance accumulation of carotenoids in Escherichia coli engineered to produce these colored isoprenoid compounds. When combined with a cDNA encoding deoxyxylulose-5-phosphate synthase (dxs), the initial enzyme of the DOXP pathway, the individual salutary effects of lytB and dxs were multiplied. In contrast, the combination of lytB and a cDNA encoding IPP isomerase (ipi) was no more effective in enhancing carotenoid accumulation than ipi alone, indicating that the ratio of IPP and DMAPP produced via the DOXP pathway is influenced by LytB.
PMCID: PMC94708  PMID: 11004185
3.  A Whole-Cell Phenotypic Screening Platform for Identifying Methylerythritol Phosphate Pathway-Selective Inhibitors as Novel Antibacterial Agents 
Isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential for survival of all living organisms. More than 50,000 unique isoprenoids occur naturally, with each constructed from two simple five-carbon precursors: isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Two pathways for the biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP are found in nature. Humans exclusively use the mevalonate (MVA) pathway, while most bacteria, including all Gram-negative and many Gram-positive species, use the unrelated methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. Here we report the development of a novel, whole-cell phenotypic screening platform to identify compounds that selectively inhibit the MEP pathway. Strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium were engineered to have separately inducible MEP (native) and MVA (nonnative) pathways. These strains, RMC26 and CT31-7d, were then used to differentiate MVA pathway- and MEP pathway-specific perturbation. Compounds that inhibit MEP pathway-dependent bacterial growth but leave MVA-dependent growth unaffected represent MEP pathway-selective antibacterials. This screening platform offers three significant results. First, the compound is antibacterial and is therefore cell permeant, enabling access to the intracellular target. Second, the compound inhibits one or more MEP pathway enzymes. Third, the MVA pathway is unaffected, suggesting selectivity for targeting the bacterial versus host pathway. The cell lines also display increased sensitivity to two reported MEP pathway-specific inhibitors, further biasing the platform toward inhibitors selective for the MEP pathway. We demonstrate development of a robust, high-throughput screening platform that combines phenotypic and target-based screening that can identify MEP pathway-selective antibacterials simply by monitoring optical density as the readout for cell growth/inhibition.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00987-12
PMCID: PMC3421842  PMID: 22777049
4.  Escherichia coli Open Reading Frame 696 Is idi, a Nonessential Gene Encoding Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(15):4499-4504.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase catalyzes the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). In eukaryotes, archaebacteria, and some bacteria, IPP is synthesized from acetyl coenzyme A by the mevalonate pathway. The subsequent isomerization of IPP to DMAPP activates the five-carbon isoprene unit for subsequent prenyl transfer reactions. In Escherichia coli, the isoprene unit is synthesized from pyruvate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate by the recently discovered nonmevalonate pathway. An open reading frame (ORF696) encoding a putative IPP isomerase was identified in the E. coli chromosome at 65.3 min. ORF696 was cloned into an expression vector; the 20.5 kDa recombinant protein was purified in three steps, and its identity as an IPP isomerase was established biochemically. The gene for IPP isomerase, idi, is not clustered with other known genes for enzymes in the isoprenoid pathway. E. coli FH12 was constructed by disruption of the chromosomal idi gene with the aminoglycoside 3′-phosphotransferase gene and complemented by the wild-type idi gene on plasmid pFMH33 with a temperature-sensitive origin of replication. FH12/pFMH33 was able to grow at the restrictive temperature of 44°C and FH12 lacking the plasmid grew on minimal medium, thereby establishing that idi is a nonessential gene. Although the Vmax of the bacterial protein was 20-fold lower than that of its yeast counterpart, the catalytic efficiencies of the two enzymes were similar through a counterbalance in Kms. The E. coli protein requires Mg2+ or Mn2+ for activity. The enzyme contains conserved cysteine and glutamate active-site residues found in other IPP isomerases.
PMCID: PMC103578  PMID: 10419945
5.  Inhibition Studies on Enzymes Involved in Isoprenoid Biosynthesis: Focus on Two Potential Drug Targets: DXR and IDI-2 Enzymes 
Current enzyme inhibition  2011;7(2):10.2174/157340811796575317.
Isoprenoid compounds constitute an immensely diverse group of acyclic, monocyclic and polycyclic compounds that play important roles in all living organisms. Despite the diversity of their structures, this plethora of natural products arises from only two 5-carbon precursors, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). This review will discuss the enzymes in the mevalonate (MVA) and methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) biosynthetic pathways leading to IPP and DMAPP with a particular focus on MEP synthase (DXR) and IPP isomerase (IDI), which are potential targets for the development of antibiotic compounds. DXR is the second enzyme in the MEP pathway and the only one for which inhibitors with antimicrobial activity at pharmaceutically relevant concentrations are known. All of the published DXR inhibitors are fosmidomycin analogues, except for a few bisphosphonates with moderate inhibitory activity. These far, there are no other candidates that target DXR. IDI was first identified and characterised over 40 years ago (IDI-1) and a second convergently evolved isoform (IDI-2) was discovered in 2001. IDI-1 is a metalloprotein found in Eukarya and many species of Bacteria. Its mechanism has been extensively studied. In contrast, IDI-2 requires reduced flavin mononucleotide as a cofactor. The mechanism of action for IDI-2 is less well defined. This review will describe how lead inhibitors are being improved by structure-based drug design and enzymatic assays against DXR to lead to new drug families and how mechanistic probes are being used to address questions about the mechanisms of the isomerases.
doi:10.2174/157340811796575317
PMCID: PMC3856697  PMID: 24339799
DXR; IDI; isomerase; isopentenyl; isoprenoid; MEP; mevalonate; MVA; reductoisomerase
6.  Current Development in Isoprenoid Precursor Biosynthesis and Regulation 
Isoprenoids are one of the largest classes of natural products and all of them are constructed from two precursors, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and its isomer dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). For decades, the mevalonic acid (MVA) pathway was proposed to be the only IPP and DMAPP biosynthetic pathway. This review summarizes the newly discovered IPP and DMAPP production pathways since late 1990s, their distribution among different kingdoms, and their roles in secondary metabolite production. These new IPP and DMAPP production pathways include the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway, a modified MVA pathway, and the 5-Methylthioadenosine shunt pathway. Relative to the studies on the MVA pathway, information on the MEP pathway regulation is limited and the mechanistic details of several of its novel transformations remain to be addressed. Current status on both MEP pathway regulation and mechanistic issues are also presented.
doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2013.06.020
PMCID: PMC4068245  PMID: 23891475
isoprenoids; MVA; MEP; methylthioadenosine; regulation; biosynthesis
7.  Identification of an Archaeal Type II Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase in Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(6):1811-1817.
Isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP):dimethylallyl diphosphate isomerase catalyzes the interconversion of the fundamental five-carbon homoallylic and allylic diphosphate building blocks required for biosynthesis of isoprenoid compounds. Two different isomerases have been reported. The type I enzyme, first characterized in the late 1950s, is widely distributed in eukaryota and eubacteria. The type II enzyme was recently discovered in Streptomyces sp. strain CL190. Open reading frame 48 (ORF48) in the archaeon Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus encodes a putative type II IPP isomerase. A plasmid-encoded copy of the ORF complemented IPP isomerase activity in vivo in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium strain RMC29, which contains chromosomal knockouts in the genes for type I IPP isomerase (idi) and 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate (dxs). The dxs gene was interrupted with a synthetic operon containing the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes erg8, erg12, and erg19 allowing for the conversion of mevalonic acid to IPP by the mevalonate pathway. His6-tagged M. thermautotrophicus type II IPP isomerase was produced in Escherichia coli and purified by Ni2+ chromatography. The purified protein was characterized by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. The enzyme has optimal activity at 70°C and pH 6.5. NADPH, flavin mononucleotide, and Mg2+ are required cofactors. The steady-state kinetic constants for the archaeal type II IPP isomerase from M. thermautotrophicus are as follows: Km, 64 μM; specific activity, 0.476 μmol mg−1 min−1; and kcat, 1.6 s−1.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.6.1811-1817.2004
PMCID: PMC355898  PMID: 14996812
8.  Two distinct pathways for essential metabolic precursors for isoprenoid biosynthesis 
Isoprenoids are a diverse group of molecules found in all organisms, where they perform such important biological functions as hormone signaling (e.g., steroids) in mammals, antioxidation (e.g., carotenoids) in plants, electron transport (e.g., ubiquinone), and cell wall biosynthesis intermediates in bacteria. All isoprenoids are synthesized by the consecutive condensation of the five-carbon monomer isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) to its isomer, dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). The biosynthetic pathway for the formation of IPP from acetyl-CoA (i.e., the mevalonate pathway) had been established mainly in mice and the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Curiously, most prokaryotic microorganisms lack homologs of the genes in the mevalonate pathway, even though IPP and DMAPP are essential for isoprenoid biosynthesis in bacteria. This observation provided an impetus to search for an alternative pathway to synthesize IPP and DMAPP, ultimately leading to the discovery of the mevalonate-independent 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate pathway. This review article focuses on our significant contributions to a comprehensive understanding of the biosynthesis of IPP and DMAPP.
doi:10.2183/pjab.88.41
PMCID: PMC3365244  PMID: 22450534
biosynthesis; inhibitor; isoprenoid; MEP pathway; mevalonate pathway; terpenoid
9.  A sugar phosphatase regulates the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway in malaria parasites 
Nature communications  2014;5:4467.
Isoprenoid biosynthesis through the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway generates commercially important products and is a target for antimicrobial drug development. MEP pathway regulation is poorly understood in microorganisms. We employ a forward genetics approach to understand MEP pathway regulation in the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. The antimalarial fosmidomycin inhibits the MEP pathway enzyme deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR). Fosmidomycin-resistant P. falciparum are enriched for changes in the PF3D7_1033400 locus (hereafter referred to as PfHAD1), encoding a homologue of haloacid dehalogenase (HAD)-like sugar phosphatases. We describe the structural basis for loss-of-function PfHAD1 alleles and find that PfHAD1 dephosphorylates a variety of sugar phosphates, including glycolytic intermediates. Loss of PfHAD1 is required for fosmidomycin resistance. Parasites lacking PfHAD1 have increased MEP pathway metabolites, particularly the DXR substrate, deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate. PfHAD1 therefore controls substrate availability to the MEP pathway. Because PfHAD1 has homologs in plants and bacteria, other HAD proteins may be MEP pathway regulators.
doi:10.1038/ncomms5467
PMCID: PMC4112465  PMID: 25058848
10.  A second target of the antimalarial and antibacterial agent fosmidomycin revealed by cellular metabolic profiling† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(17):3570-3577.
Antimicrobial drug resistance is an urgent problem in control and treatment of many of the world's most serious infections, including Plasmodium falciparum malaria, tuberculosis, and healthcare-associated infections with Gram-negative bacteria. Because the non-mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis is essential in eubacteria and P. falciparum, and this pathway is not present in humans, there is great interest in targeting the enzymes of non-mevalonate metabolism for antibacterial and antiparasitic drug development. Fosmidomycin is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent currently in clinical trials of combination therapies to treat malaria. In vitro, fosmidomycin is known to inhibit the deoxyxylulose phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR) enzyme of isoprenoid biosynthesis from multiple pathogenic organisms. To define the in vivo metabolic response to fosmidomycin, we developed a novel mass spectrometry method to quantitate six metabolites of non-mevalonate isoprenoid metabolism from complex biological samples. Using this technique, we validate that the biological effects of fosmidomycin are mediated through blockade of de novo isoprenoid biosynthesis in both P. falciparum malaria parasites and E. coli bacteria: in both organisms, metabolic profiling demonstrated a block in isoprenoid metabolism following fosmidomycin treatment, and growth inhibition due to fosmidomycin was rescued by media supplemented with isoprenoid metabolites. Isoprenoid metabolism proceeded through DXR even in the presence of fosmidomycin, but was inhibited at the level of the downstream enzyme, methylerythritol phosphate cytidyltransferase (IspD). Overexpression of IspD in E. coli conferred fosmidomycin resistance, and fosmidomycin was found to inhibit IspD in vitro. This work has validated fosmidomycin as a biological reagent to block non-mevalonate isoprenoid metabolism, and suggests a second in vivo target for fosmidomycin within isoprenoid biosynthesis, in two evolutionarily diverse pathogens.
doi:10.1021/bi200113y
PMCID: PMC3082593  PMID: 21438569
11.  Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for high-specificity production of isoprenol and prenol as next generation of biofuels 
Background
The isopentenols, including isoprenol and prenol, are excellent alternative fuels. However, they are not compounds largely accumulated in natural organism. The need for the next generation of biofuels with better physical and chemical properties impels us to develop biosynthetic routes for the production of isoprenol and prenol from renewable sugar. In this study, we use the heterogenous mevalonate-dependent (MVA) isoprenoid pathway for the synthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) intermediates, and then convert IPP and DMAPP to isoprenol and prenol, respectively.
Results
A mevalonate titer of 1.7 g/L was obtained by constructing an efficient MVA upper pathway in engineered E. coli. Different phosphatases and pyrophosphatases were investigated for their abilities in hydrolyzing the IPP and DMAPP. Consequently, ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase was found to be an efficient IPP and DMAPP hydrolase. Moreover, ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase from Bacillus subtilis (BsNudF) exhibited a equivalent substrate specificity towards IPP and DMAPP, while ADP-ribose pyrophosphatase from E. coli (EcNudF) presented a high substrate preference for DMAPP. Without the expression of any phosphatases or pyrophosphatases, a background level of isopentenols was synthesized. When the endogenous pyrophosphatase genes (EcNudF and yggV) that were capable of enhancing the hydrolyzation of the IPP and DMAPP were knocked out, the background level of isopentenols was still obtained. Maybe the synthesized IPP and DMAPP were hydrolyzed by some unknown hydrolases of E. coli. Finally, 1.3 g/L single isoprenol was obtained by blocking the conversion of IPP to DMAPP and employing the BsNudF, and 0.2 g/L ~80% prenol was produced by employing the EcNudF. A maximal yield of 12% was achieved in both isoprenol and prenol producing strains.
Conclusions
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first successful report on high-specificity production of isoprenol and prenol by microbial fermentation. Over 1.3 g/L isoprenol achieved in shake-flask experiments represents a quite encouraging titer of higher alcohols. In addition, the substrate specificities of ADP-ribose pyrophosphatases were determined and successfully applied for the high-specificity synthesis of isoprenol and prenol. Altogether, this work presents a promising strategy for high-specificity production of two excellent biofuels, isoprenol and prenol.
doi:10.1186/1754-6834-6-57
PMCID: PMC3654967  PMID: 23618128
Isoprenol; Prenol; Metabolic engineering; Escherichia coli; Biofuel
12.  Probing phosphorylation by non-mammalian isoprenoid biosynthetic enzymes using 1H–31P–31P correlation NMR spectroscopy†‡ 
Molecular bioSystems  2009;5(9):935-944.
The biogenesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP) is accomplished by the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway in plants, bacteria and parasites, making it a potential target for the development of anti-infective agents and herbicides. The biosynthetic enzymes comprising this pathway catalyze intriguing chemical transformations on diphosphate scaffolds, offering an opportunity to generate novel analogs in this synthetically challenging compound class. Such a biosynthetic approach to generating new diphosphate analogs may involve transformation through discrete diphosphate species, presenting unique challenges in structure determination and characterization of unnatural enzyme-generated diphosphate products produced in tandem. We have developed 1H–31P–31P correlation NMR spectroscopy techniques for the direct characterization of crude MEP pathway enzyme products at low concentrations (200 μM to 5 mM) on a room temperature (non-cryogenic) NMR probe. Coupling the 100% natural abundance of the 31P nucleus with the high intrinsic sensitivity of proton NMR, 1H–31P–31P correlation spectroscopy is particularly useful for characterization of unnatural diphosphate enzyme products in the MEP pathway. As proof of principle, we demonstrate the rapid characterization of natural enzyme products of the enzymes IspD, E and F in tandem enzyme incubations. In addition, we have characterized several unnatural enzyme products using this technique, including new products of cytidyltransferase IspD bearing erythritol, glycerol and ribose components. The results of this study indicate that IspD may be a useful biocatalyst and highlight 1H–31P–31P correlation spectroscopy as a valuable tool for the characterization of other unnatural products in non-mammalian isoprenoid biosynthesis.
doi:10.1039/b903513c
PMCID: PMC3161243  PMID: 19668858
13.  Synthetic Routes to Methylerythritol Phosphate Pathway Intermediates and Downstream Isoprenoids 
Current Organic Chemistry  2014;18(8):1050-1072.
Isoprenoids constitute the largest class of natural products with greater than 55,000 identified members. They play essential roles in maintaining proper cellular function leading to maintenance of human health, plant defense mechanisms against predators, and are often exploited for their beneficial properties in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. Most impressively, all known isoprenoids are derived from one of two C5-precursors, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) or dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). In order to study the enzyme transformations leading to the extensive structural diversity found within this class of compounds there must be access to the substrates. Sometimes, intermediates within a biological pathway can be isolated and used directly to study enzyme/pathway function. However, the primary route to most of the isoprenoid intermediates is through chemical catalysis. As such, this review provides the first exhaustive examination of synthetic routes to isoprenoid and isoprenoid precursors with particular emphasis on the syntheses of intermediates found as part of the 2C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. In addition, representative syntheses are presented for the monoterpenes (C10), sesquiterpenes (C15), diterpenes (C20), triterpenes (C30) and tetraterpenes (C40). Finally, in some instances, the synthetic routes to substrate analogs found both within the MEP pathway and downstream isoprenoids are examined.
doi:10.2174/1385272819666140501001101
PMCID: PMC4082188  PMID: 25009443
Enzyme mechanism; isoprenoids; terpenes; MEP pathway.
14.  2C-Methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate enhances and sustains cyclodiphosphate synthase IspF activity 
ACS chemical biology  2012;7(10):1702-1710.
There is significant progress toward understanding catalysis throughout the essential MEP pathway to isoprenoids in human pathogens; however, little is known about pathway regulation. The present study begins by testing the hypothesis that isoprenoid biosynthesis is regulated via feedback inhibition of the fifth enzyme cyclodiphosphate IspF by downstream isoprenoid diphosphates. Here, we demonstrate recombinant E. coli IspF is not inhibited by downstream metabolites and isopentenyl diphosphate (IDP), dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMADP), geranyl diphosphate (GDP) and farnesyl diphosphate (FDP) under standard assay conditions. However, 2C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP), the product of reductoisomerase IspC and first committed MEP pathway intermediate, activates and sustains this enhanced IspF activity, and the IspF-MEP complex is inhibited by FDP. We further show that the methylerythritol scaffold itself, which is unique to this pathway, drives the activation and stabilization of active IspF. Our results suggest a novel feed-forward regulatory mechanism for 2Cmethyl-d-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate (MEcDP) production and support an isoprenoid biosynthesis regulatory mechanism via feedback inhibition of the IspF-MEP complex by FDP. The results have important implications for development of inhibitors against the IspF-MEP complex, which may be the physiologically relevant form of the enzyme.
doi:10.1021/cb300243w
PMCID: PMC3477264  PMID: 22839733
cyclodiphosphate synthase; IspF; methylerythritol phosphate; MEP pathway regulation
15.  Evolutionary diversification and characterization of the eubacterial gene family encoding DXR type II, an alternative isoprenoid biosynthetic enzyme 
Background
Isoprenoids constitute a vast family of natural compounds performing diverse and essential functions in all domains of life. In most eubacteria, isoprenoids are synthesized through the methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway. The production of MEP is usually catalyzed by deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate reductoisomerase (DXR-I) but a few organisms use an alternative DXR-like enzyme (DXR-II).
Results
Searches through 1498 bacterial complete proteomes detected 130 sequences with similarity to DXR-II. Phylogenetic analysis identified three well-resolved clades: the DXR-II family (clustering 53 sequences including eleven experimentally verified as functional enzymes able to produce MEP), and two previously uncharacterized NAD(P)-dependent oxidoreductase families (designated DLO1 and DLO2 for DXR-II-like oxidoreductases 1 and 2). Our analyses identified amino acid changes critical for the acquisition of DXR-II biochemical function through type-I functional divergence, two of them mapping onto key residues for DXR-II activity. DXR-II showed a markedly discontinuous distribution, which was verified at several levels: taxonomic (being predominantly found in Alphaproteobacteria and Firmicutes), metabolic (being mostly found in bacteria with complete functional MEP pathways with or without DXR-I), and phenotypic (as no biological/phenotypic property was found to be preferentially distributed among DXR-II-containing strains, apart from pathogenicity in animals). By performing a thorough comparative sequence analysis of GC content, 3:1 dinucleotide frequencies, codon usage and codon adaptation indexes (CAI) between DXR-II sequences and their corresponding genomes, we examined the role of horizontal gene transfer (HGT), as opposed to an scenario of massive gene loss, in the evolutionary origin and diversification of the DXR-II subfamily in bacteria.
Conclusions
Our analyses support a single origin of the DXR-II family through functional divergence, in which constitutes an exceptional model of acquisition and maintenance of redundant gene functions between non-homologous genes as a result of convergent evolution. Subsequently, although old episodic events of HGT could not be excluded, the results supported a prevalent role of gene loss in explaining the distribution of DXR-II in specific pathogenic eubacteria. Our results highlight the importance of the functional characterization of evolutionary shortcuts in isoprenoid biosynthesis for screening specific antibacterial drugs and for regulating the production of isoprenoids of human interest.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-180
PMCID: PMC3847144  PMID: 24004839
DXR-II; Isoprenoid metabolism; Horizontal gene transfer; Gene loss; Functional divergence
16.  Optimization of the IPP Precursor Supply for the Production of Lycopene, Decaprenoxanthin and Astaxanthin by Corynebacterium glutamicum 
The biotechnologically relevant bacterium Corynebacterium glutamicum, currently used for the million ton-scale production of amino acids for the food and feed industries, is pigmented due to synthesis of the rare cyclic C50 carotenoid decaprenoxanthin and its glucosides. The precursors of carotenoid biosynthesis, isopenthenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) and its isomer dimethylallyl pyrophosphate, are synthesized in this organism via the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) or non-mevalonate pathway. Terminal pathway engineering in recombinant C. glutamicum permitted the production of various non-native C50 and C40 carotenoids. Here, the role of engineering isoprenoid precursor supply for lycopene production by C. glutamicum was characterized. Overexpression of dxs encoding the enzyme that catalyzes the first committed step of the MEP-pathway by chromosomal promoter exchange in a prophage-cured, genome-reduced C. glutamicum strain improved lycopene formation. Similarly, an increased IPP supply was achieved by chromosomal integration of two artificial operons comprising MEP pathway genes under the control of a constitutive promoter. Combined overexpression of dxs and the other six MEP pathways genes in C. glutamicum strain LYC3-MEP was not synergistic with respect to improving lycopene accumulation. Based on C. glutamicum strain LYC3-MEP, astaxanthin could be produced in the milligrams per gram cell dry weight range when the endogenous genes crtE, crtB, and crtI for conversion of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate to lycopene were coexpressed with the genes for lycopene cyclase and β-carotene hydroxylase from Pantoea ananatis and carotene C(4) oxygenase from Brevundimonas aurantiaca.
doi:10.3389/fbioe.2014.00028
PMCID: PMC4138558  PMID: 25191655
carotenoid production; genome-reduced Corynebacterium glutamicum; MEP pathway; synthetic operons; astaxanthin
17.  Characterization of Thermophilic Archaeal Isopentenyl Phosphate Kinases 
Biochemistry  2010;49(1):10.1021/bi9017957.
Archaea synthesize isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP), the essential building blocks of isoprenoid compounds, from mevalonate (MVA). However, an analysis of the genomes of several members of the Archaea failed to identify genes for the enzymes required to convert phosphomevalonate (PM) to IPP in Eukaryotes. The recent discovery of an isopentenyl kinase (IPK) in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (MJ) suggests a new variation of the MVA pathway where PM is decarboxylated to give isopentenyl phosphate (IP), which is phosphorylated to produce IPP. A blast search using the MJ protein as a probe revealed a subfamily of amino acid kinases that include the fosfomycin resistance protein fomA, which deactivates the antibiotic by phosphorylation of its phosphonate residue in a reaction similar to the conversion of IP to IPP. IPK genes were cloned from two organisms identified in the search, Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus (MTH) and Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA), and the His-tagged recombinant proteins were purified by Ni-NTA chromatography. The enzymes catalyze the reversible phosphorylation of IP by ATP, Keq = 6.3 ± 1. The catalytic efficiencies (V/K) of the proteins were ~2 × 106 M−1s−1. In the reverse direction, ADP was a substrate inhibitor for THA IPK, KiADP = 58 ± 6 µM but not for MTH IPK. Both enzymes were active over a broad range of pH and temperature. Five compounds, dimethylallyl phosphate, isopentenyl thiolophosphate, 1-butyl phosphate, 3-buten-1-yl phosphate, and geranyl phosphate, were evaluated as alternative substrate for the MTH and THA IP kinases. All of the compounds were phosphorylated, although the catalytic efficiency was low for geranyl phosphate.
doi:10.1021/bi9017957
PMCID: PMC3856865  PMID: 19928876
18.  The 2-C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway in melon is regulated by specialized isoforms for the first and last steps 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(17):5077-5092.
Highlight text
This research describes the role of specialized isoforms encoding regulated steps of the MEP pathway in melon and provides evidence for their functional specialization in seedling greening.
The 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) pathway provides the precursors for the biosynthesis of plastidial isoprenoids, which include the carotenoid pigments of many fruits. We have analysed the genes encoding the seven enzymes of the MEP pathway in melon (Cucumis melo L.) and determined that the first one, 1-deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXS), and the last one, 1-hydroxy-2-methyl-2-(E)-butenyl 4-diphosphate reductase (HDR), are represented in the genome as a small gene family and paralogous pair, respectively. In the case of DXS, three genes encode functional DXS activities which fall into previously established type I (CmDXS1) and II (CmDXS2a and CmDXS2b) categories, while a fourth DXS-like gene belonging to the type III group did not encode a protein with DXS activity. Their expression patterns and phylogenies suggest that CmDXS1 is functionally specialized for developmental and photosynthetic processes, while CmDXS2a and CmDXS2b are induced in flowers and ripening fruit of orange- (but not white-) fleshed varieties, coinciding with β-carotene accumulation. This is the first instance connecting type II DXS genes to specialized isoprenoid biosynthesis in the fruit of an agronomically important species. Two HDR paralogues were shown to encode functional enzymes, although only CmHDR1 was highly expressed in the tissues and developmental stages tested. Phylogenetic analysis showed that in cucurbits such as melon, these HDR paralogues probably arose through individual gene duplications in a common angiosperm ancestor, mimicking a prior division in gymnosperms, while other flowering plants, including apple, soy, canola, and poplar, acquired HDR duplicates recently as homoeologues through large-scale genome duplications. We report the influence of gene duplication history on the regulation of the MEP pathway in melon and the role of specialized MEP-pathway isoforms in providing precursors for β-carotene production in orange-fleshed melon varieties.
doi:10.1093/jxb/eru275
PMCID: PMC4144782  PMID: 25013119
2-C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate; carotenoids; fruit development; isoprenoid biosynthesis; melon; metabolite profiling; phylogenetics; transcript profiling.
19.  X-ray structures of isopentenyl phosphate kinase 
ACS chemical biology  2010;5(5):517-527.
Isoprenoid compounds are ubiquitous in nature, participating in important biological phenomena such as signal transduction, aerobic cellular respiration, photosynthesis, insect communication, and many others. They are derived from the 5-carbon isoprenoid substrates isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and its isomer dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). In Archaea and Eukarya, these building blocks are synthesized via the mevalonate pathway. However, the genes required to convert mevalonate phosphate (MP) to IPP are missing in several species of Archaea. An enzyme with isopentenyl phosphate kinase (IPK) activity was recently discovered in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (MJ), suggesting a departure from the classical sequence of converting MP to IPP. We have determined the high-resolution crystal structures of isopentenyl phosphate kinases in complex with both substrates and products from Thermoplasma acidophilum (THA), as well as the IPK from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus (MTH), by means of single-wavelength anomalous diffraction (SAD) and molecular replacement. A histidine residue (His50) in THA IPK makes a hydrogen bond with the terminal phosphates of IP and IPP, poising these molecules for phosphoryl transfer through an in-line geometry. Moreover, a lysine residue (Lys14) makes hydrogen bonds with non-bridging oxygen atoms at Pα and Pγ and with the Pβ- Pγ bridging oxygen atom in ATP. These interactions suggest a transition state-stabilizing role for this residue. Lys14 is a part of a newly discovered “lysine triangle” catalytic motif in IPK’s that also includes Lys5 and Lys205. Moreover, His50, Lys5, Lys14, and Lys205 are conserved in all IPK’s and can therefore serve as fingerprints for identifying new homologues.
doi:10.1021/cb100032g
PMCID: PMC2879073  PMID: 20402538
20.  Subcellular evidence for the involvement of peroxisomes in plant isoprenoid biosynthesis 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(12):2044-2046.
The role of peroxisomes in isoprenoid metabolism, especially in plants, has been questioned in several reports. A recent study of Sapir-Mir et al.1 revealed that the two isoforms of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) isomerase, catalyzing the isomerisation of IPP to dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) are found in the peroxisome. In this addendum, we provide additional data describing the peroxisomal localization of 5-phosphomevalonate kinase and mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, the last two enzymes of the mevalonic acid pathway leading to IPP.2 This finding was reinforced in our latest report showing that a short isoform of farnesyl diphosphate, using IPP and DMAPP as substrates, is also targeted to the organelle.3 Therefore, the classical sequestration of isoprenoid biosynthesis between plastids and cytosol/ER can be revisited by including the peroxisome as an additional isoprenoid biosynthetic compartment within plant cells.
doi:10.4161/psb.6.12.18173
PMCID: PMC3337203  PMID: 22080790
5-phosphomevalonate kinase; Arabidopsis thaliana; Catharanthus roseus; farnesyl diphosphate synthase; isoprenoid; mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase; mevalonic acid pathway; peroxisome
21.  Functional complementation of an Escherichia coli gap mutant supports an amphibolic role for NAD(P)-dependent glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase of Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(14):4513-4522.
The gap-2 gene, encoding the NAD(P)-dependent D-glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH2) of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803, was cloned by functional complementation of an Escherichia coli gap mutant with a genomic DNA library; this is the first time that this cloning strategy has been used for a GAPDH involved in photosynthetic carbon assimilation. The Synechocystis DNA region able to complement the E. coli gap mutant was narrowed down to 3 kb and fully sequenced. A single complete open reading frame of 1,011 bp encoding a protein of 337 amino acids was found and identified as the putative gap-2 gene identified in the complete genome sequence of this organism. Determination of the transcriptional start point, identification of putative promoter and terminator sites, and orientation of the truncated flanking genes suggested the gap-2 transcript should be monocystronic, a possibility further confirmed by Northern blot studies. Both natural and recombinant homotetrameric GAPDH2s were purified and found to exhibit virtually identical physicochemical and kinetic properties. The recombinant GAPDH2 showed the dual pyridine nucleotide specificity characteristic of the native cyanobacterial enzyme, and similar ratios of NAD- to NADP-dependent activities were found in cell extracts from Synechocystis as well as in those from the complemented E. coli clones. The deduced amino acid sequence of Synechocystis GAPDH2 presented a high degree of identity with sequences of the chloroplastic NADP-dependent enzymes. In agreement with this result, immunoblot analysis using monospecific antibodies raised against GAPDH2 showed the presence of the 38-kDa GAPDH subunit not only in crude extracts from the gap-2-expressing E. coli clones and all cyanobacteria that were tested but also in those from eukaryotic microalgae and plants. Western and Northern blot experiments showed that gap-2 is conspicuously expressed, although at different levels, in Synechocystis cells grown in different metabolic regimens, even under chemoheterotrophic conditions. A possible amphibolic role of the cyanobacterial GAPDH2, namely, anabolic for photosynthetic carbon assimilation and catabolic for carbohydrate degradative pathways, is discussed.
PMCID: PMC179286  PMID: 9226260
22.  Chemical Rescue of Malaria Parasites Lacking an Apicoplast Defines Organelle Function in Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(8):e1001138.
The only essential function of a unique plastid organelle, the apicoplast, in blood-stage P. falciparum is the production of isoprenoid precursors.
Plasmodium spp parasites harbor an unusual plastid organelle called the apicoplast. Due to its prokaryotic origin and essential function, the apicoplast is a key target for development of new anti-malarials. Over 500 proteins are predicted to localize to this organelle and several prokaryotic biochemical pathways have been annotated, yet the essential role of the apicoplast during human infection remains a mystery. Previous work showed that treatment with fosmidomycin, an inhibitor of non-mevalonate isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis in the apicoplast, inhibits the growth of blood-stage P. falciparum. Herein, we demonstrate that fosmidomycin inhibition can be chemically rescued by supplementation with isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP), the pathway product. Surprisingly, IPP supplementation also completely reverses death following treatment with antibiotics that cause loss of the apicoplast. We show that antibiotic-treated parasites rescued with IPP over multiple cycles specifically lose their apicoplast genome and fail to process or localize organelle proteins, rendering them functionally apicoplast-minus. Despite the loss of this essential organelle, these apicoplast-minus auxotrophs can be grown indefinitely in asexual blood stage culture but are entirely dependent on exogenous IPP for survival. These findings indicate that isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis is the only essential function of the apicoplast during blood-stage growth. Moreover, apicoplast-minus P. falciparum strains will be a powerful tool for further investigation of apicoplast biology as well as drug and vaccine development.
Author Summary
Malaria caused by Plasmodium spp parasites is a profound human health problem that has shaped our evolutionary past and continues to influence modern day with a disease burden that disproportionately affects the world's poorest and youngest. New anti-malarials are desperately needed in the face of existing or emerging drug resistance to available therapies, while an effective vaccine remains elusive. A plastid organelle, the apicoplast, has been hailed as Plasmodium's “Achilles' heel” because it contains bacteria-derived pathways that have no counterpart in the human host and therefore may be ideal drug targets. However, more than a decade after its discovery, the essential functions of the apicoplast remain a mystery, and without a specific pathway or function to target, development of drugs against the apicoplast has been stymied. In this study, we use a simple chemical method to generate parasites that have lost their apicoplast, normally a deadly event, but which survive—“rescued” by the addition of an essential metabolite to the culture. This chemical rescue demonstrates that the apicoplast serves only a single essential function, namely isoprenoid precursor biosynthesis during blood-stage growth, validating this metabolic function as a viable drug target. Moreover, the apicoplast-minus Plasmodium strains generated in this study will be a powerful tool for identifying apicoplast-targeted drugs and as a potential vaccine strain with significant advantages over current vaccine technologies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001138
PMCID: PMC3166167  PMID: 21912516
23.  Characterization and Mechanistic Studies of Type II Isopentenyl Diphosphate:Dimethylallyl Diphosphate Isomerase from Staphylococcus aureus 
Biochemistry  2007;46(28):8401-8413.
The recently identified type II isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP):dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) isomerase (IDI-2) is a flavoenzyme that requires FMN and NAD(P)H for activity. IDI-2 is an essential enzyme for the biosynthesis of isoprenoids in several pathogenic bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Enterococcus faecalis, and thus is considered as a potential new drug target to battle bacterial infections. One notable feature of the IDI-2 reaction is that there is no net change in redox state between the substrate (IPP) and product (DMAPP), indicating that the FMN cofactor must start and finish each catalytic cycle in the same redox state. Here, we report the characterization and initial mechanistic studies of the S. aureus IDI-2. The steady-state kinetic analyses under aerobic and anaerobic conditions show that FMN must be reduced to be catalytically active and the overall IDI-2 reaction is O2 sensitive. Interestingly, our results demonstrate that NADPH is needed only in catalytic amounts to activate the enzyme for multiple turnovers of IPP to DMAPP. The hydride transfer from NAD(P)H to reduce FMN is determined to be pro-S stereospecific. Photoreduction and oxidation-reduction potential studies reveal that the S. aureus IDI-2 can stabilize significant amounts of the neutral FMN semiquinone. In addition, reconstitution of apo-IDI-2 with 5-deazaFMN resulted in a dead enzyme, whereas reconstitution with 1-deazaFMN led to the full recovery of enzyme activity. Taken together, these studies of S. aureus IDI-2 support a catalytic mechanism in which the reduced flavin coenzyme mediates a single electron transfer to and from the IPP substrate during catalysis.
doi:10.1021/bi700286a
PMCID: PMC2515275  PMID: 17585782
24.  Open reading frame 176 in the photosynthesis gene cluster of Rhodobacter capsulatus encodes idi, a gene for isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1996;178(3):619-624.
Isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) isomerase catalyzes an essential activation step in the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway. A database search based on probes from the highly conserved regions in three eukaryotic IPP isomerases revealed substantial similarity with ORF176 in the photosynthesis gene cluster in Rhodobacter capsulatus. The open reading frame was cloned into an Escherichia coli expression vector. The encoded 20-kDa protein, which was purified in two steps by ion exchange and hydrophobic interaction chromatography, catalyzed the interconversion of IPP and dimethylallyl diphosphate. Thus, the photosynthesis gene cluster encodes all of the enzymes required to incorporate IPP into the ultimate carotenoid and bacteriochlorophyll metabolites in R. capsulatus. More recent searches uncovered additional putative open reading frames for IPP isomerase in seed-bearing plants (Oryza sativa, Arabadopsis thaliana, and Clarkia breweri), a worm (Caenorhabiditis elegans), and another eubacterium (Escherichia coli). The R. capsulatus enzyme is the smallest of the IPP isomerases to be identified thus far and may consist mostly of a fundamental catalytic core for the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC177703  PMID: 8550491
25.  Bioinformatic evaluation of L-arginine catabolic pathways in 24 cyanobacteria and transcriptional analysis of genes encoding enzymes of L-arginine catabolism in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:437.
Background
So far very limited knowledge exists on L-arginine catabolism in cyanobacteria, although six major L-arginine-degrading pathways have been described for prokaryotes. Thus, we have performed a bioinformatic analysis of possible L-arginine-degrading pathways in cyanobacteria. Further, we chose Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 for a more detailed bioinformatic analysis and for validation of the bioinformatic predictions on L-arginine catabolism with a transcript analysis.
Results
We have evaluated 24 cyanobacterial genomes of freshwater or marine strains for the presence of putative L-arginine-degrading enzymes. We identified an L-arginine decarboxylase pathway in all 24 strains. In addition, cyanobacteria have one or two further pathways representing either an arginase pathway or L-arginine deiminase pathway or an L-arginine oxidase/dehydrogenase pathway. An L-arginine amidinotransferase pathway as a major L-arginine-degrading pathway is not likely but can not be entirely excluded. A rather unusual finding was that the cyanobacterial L-arginine deiminases are substantially larger than the enzymes in non-photosynthetic bacteria and that they are membrane-bound. A more detailed bioinformatic analysis of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 revealed that three different L-arginine-degrading pathways may in principle be functional in this cyanobacterium. These are (i) an L-arginine decarboxylase pathway, (ii) an L-arginine deiminase pathway, and (iii) an L-arginine oxidase/dehydrogenase pathway. A transcript analysis of cells grown either with nitrate or L-arginine as sole N-source and with an illumination of 50 μmol photons m-2 s-1 showed that the transcripts for the first enzyme(s) of all three pathways were present, but that the transcript levels for the L-arginine deiminase and the L-arginine oxidase/dehydrogenase were substantially higher than that of the three isoenzymes of L-arginine decarboxylase.
Conclusion
The evaluation of 24 cyanobacterial genomes revealed that five different L-arginine-degrading pathways are present in the investigated cyanobacterial species. In Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 an L-arginine deiminase pathway and an L-arginine oxidase/dehydrogenase pathway represent the major pathways, while the L-arginine decarboxylase pathway most likely only functions in polyamine biosynthesis. The transcripts encoding the enzymes of the two major pathways were constitutively expressed with the exception of the transcript for the carbamate kinase, which was substantially up-regulated in cells grown with L-arginine.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-437
PMCID: PMC2242806  PMID: 18045455

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