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1.  Effect of iclR and arcA knockouts on biomass formation and metabolic fluxes in Escherichia coli K12 and its implications on understanding the metabolism of Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3) 
BMC Microbiology  2011;11:70.
Gene expression is regulated through a complex interplay of different transcription factors (TFs) which can enhance or inhibit gene transcription. ArcA is a global regulator that regulates genes involved in different metabolic pathways, while IclR as a local regulator, controls the transcription of the glyoxylate pathway genes of the aceBAK operon. This study investigates the physiological and metabolic consequences of arcA and iclR deletions on E. coli K12 MG1655 under glucose abundant and limiting conditions and compares the results with the metabolic characteristics of E. coli BL21 (DE3).
The deletion of arcA and iclR results in an increase in the biomass yield both under glucose abundant and limiting conditions, approaching the maximum theoretical yield of 0.65 c-mole/c-mole glucose under glucose abundant conditions. This can be explained by the lower flux through several CO2 producing pathways in the E. coli K12 ΔarcAΔiclR double knockout strain. Due to iclR gene deletion, the glyoxylate pathway is activated resulting in a redirection of 30% of the isocitrate molecules directly to succinate and malate without CO2 production. Furthermore, a higher flux at the entrance of the TCA was noticed due to arcA gene deletion, resulting in a reduced production of acetate and less carbon loss. Under glucose limiting conditions the flux through the glyoxylate pathway is further increased in the ΔiclR knockout strain, but this effect was not observed in the double knockout strain. Also a striking correlation between the glyoxylate flux data and the isocitrate lyase activity was observed for almost all strains and under both growth conditions, illustrating the transcriptional control of this pathway. Finally, similar central metabolic fluxes were observed in E. coli K12 ΔarcA ΔiclR compared to the industrially relevant E. coli BL21 (DE3), especially with respect to the pentose pathway, the glyoxylate pathway, and the TCA fluxes. In addition, a comparison of the genome sequences of the two strains showed that BL21 possesses two mutations in the promoter region of iclR and rare codons are present in arcA implying a lower tRNA acceptance. Both phenomena presumably result in a reduced ArcA and IclR synthesis in BL21, which contributes to the similar physiology as observed in E. coli K12 ΔarcAΔiclR.
The deletion of arcA results in a decrease of repression on transcription of TCA cycle genes under glucose abundant conditions, without significantly affecting the glyoxylate pathway activity. IclR clearly represses transcription of glyoxylate pathway genes under glucose abundance, a condition in which Crp activation is absent. Under glucose limitation, Crp is responsible for the high glyoxylate flux, but IclR still represses transcription. Finally, in E. coli BL21 (DE3), ArcA and IclR are poorly expressed, explaining the similar fluxes observed compared to the ΔarcAΔiclR strain.
PMCID: PMC3094197  PMID: 21481254
2.  Fat-to-glucose interconversion by hydrodynamic transfer of two glyoxylate cycle enzyme genes 
The glyoxylate cycle, which is well characterized in higher plants and some microorganisms but not in vertebrates, is able to bypass the citric acid cycle to achieve fat-to-carbohydrate interconversion. In this context, the hydrodynamic transfer of two glyoxylate cycle enzymes, such as isocytrate lyase (ICL) and malate synthase (MS), could accomplish the shift of using fat for the synthesis of glucose. Therefore, 20 mice weighing 23.37 ± 0.96 g were hydrodinamically gene transferred by administering into the tail vein a bolus with ICL and MS. After 36 hours, body weight, plasma glucose, respiratory quotient and energy expenditure were measured. The respiratory quotient was increased by gene transfer, which suggests that a higher carbohydrate/lipid ratio is oxidized in such animals. This application could help, if adequate protocols are designed, to induce fat utilization for glucose synthesis, which might be eventually useful to reduce body fat depots in situations of obesity and diabetes.
PMCID: PMC2614421  PMID: 19077206
3.  Role of the Transcriptional Regulator RamB (Rv0465c) in the Control of the Glyoxylate Cycle in Mycobacterium tuberculosis▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(23):7260-7269.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis generally is assumed to depend on lipids as a major carbon and energy source when persisting within the host. The utilization of fatty acids requires a functional glyoxylate cycle with the key enzymes isocitrate lyase (Icl) and malate synthase. The open reading frame Rv0465c of M. tuberculosis H37Rv encodes a protein with significant sequence similarity to the transcriptional regulator RamB, which in Corynebacterium glutamicum controls the expression of several genes involved in acetate metabolism, i.e., those encoding enzymes of acetate activation and the glyoxylate cycle. We show here that the M. tuberculosis Rv0465c protein can functionally complement RamB in C. glutamicum and that it binds to the promoter regions of M. tuberculosis icl1 and Rv0465c. Construction and subsequent transcriptional and enzymatic analysis of a defined Rv0465c deletion mutant in M. tuberculosis revealed that the Rv0465c protein, now designated RamB, represses icl1 expression during growth with glucose and negatively autoregulates the expression of its own operon. Whole-genome microarray analysis of the M. tuberculosis ramB (ramBMT) mutant and the wild type furthermore showed that apart from icl1 and the ramBMT operon, the expression of all other M. tuberculosis genes involved in acetate metabolism remain unchanged in the mutant. Thus, RamBMT has a more specific regulatory function as RamB from C. glutamicum and is confined to expression control of icl1 and the ramBMT operon.
PMCID: PMC2786550  PMID: 19767422
4.  M. tuberculosis isocitrate lyases 1 and 2 are jointly required for in vivo growth and virulence 
Nature medicine  2005;11(6):638-644.
Genes involved in fatty acid catabolism have undergone extensive duplication in the genus Mycobacterium, which includes the etiologic agents of leprosy and tuberculosis. Here, we show that prokaryotic- and eukaryotic-like isoforms of the glyoxylate cycle enzyme isocitrate lyase (ICL) are jointly required for fatty acid catabolism and virulence in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. While deletion of icl1 or icl2 had little effect on bacterial growth in macrophages and mice, deletion of both genes resulted in complete impairment of intracellular replication and rapid elimination from the lungs. The feasibility of targeting ICL1 and ICL2 for chemical inhibition was demonstrated using a dual-specific ICL inhibitor, which blocked growth of M. tuberculosis on fatty acids and in macrophages. The absence of ICL orthologs in mammals should facilitate the development of glyoxylate cycle inhibitors as novel drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC1464426  PMID: 15895072
5.  Suvanine Sesterterpenes from a Tropical Sponge Coscinoderma sp. Inhibit Isocitrate Lyase in the Glyoxylate Cycle 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(10):5148-5159.
The glyoxylate cycle is a sequence of anaplerotic reactions catalyzed by the key enzymes isocitrate lyase (ICL) and malate synthase (MLS). Mutants of Candida albicans lacking ICL are markedly less virulent in mice than the wild-type. Suvanine sesterterpenes (1−9) isolated from a tropical sponge Coscinoderma sp. were evaluated for their inhibitory activities toward recombinant ICL from C. albicans. These studies led to the identification of a potent ICL inhibitor, suvanine salt (2), which possesses a sodium counterion and displays an inhibitory concentration value (IC50) of 6.35 μM. The growth phenotype of ICL deletion mutants and semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analyses indicated that compound 2 inhibits the ICL mRNA expression in C. albicans under C2-carbon-utilizing conditions. The present data highlight the potential for suvanine sesterterpenes treatment of C. albicans infections via inhibition of ICL activity.
PMCID: PMC4210890  PMID: 25310766
Candida albicans; isocitrate lyase; Coscinoderma sp.; suvanine sesterterpenes; ICL mutants
6.  13C Metabolic Flux Analysis Identifies an Unusual Route for Pyruvate Dissimilation in Mycobacteria which Requires Isocitrate Lyase and Carbon Dioxide Fixation 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(7):e1002091.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis requires the enzyme isocitrate lyase (ICL) for growth and virulence in vivo. The demonstration that M. tuberculosis also requires ICL for survival during nutrient starvation and has a role during steady state growth in a glycerol limited chemostat indicates a function for this enzyme which extends beyond fat metabolism. As isocitrate lyase is a potential drug target elucidating the role of this enzyme is of importance; however, the role of isocitrate lyase has never been investigated at the level of in vivo fluxes. Here we show that deletion of one of the two icl genes impairs the replication of Mycobacterium bovis BCG at slow growth rate in a carbon limited chemostat. In order to further understand the role of isocitrate lyase in the central metabolism of mycobacteria the effect of growth rate on the in vivo fluxes was studied for the first time using 13C-metabolic flux analysis (MFA). Tracer experiments were performed with steady state chemostat cultures of BCG or M. tuberculosis supplied with 13C labeled glycerol or sodium bicarbonate. Through measurements of the 13C isotopomer labeling patterns in protein-derived amino acids and enzymatic activity assays we have identified the activity of a novel pathway for pyruvate dissimilation. We named this the GAS pathway because it utilizes the Glyoxylate shunt and Anapleurotic reactions for oxidation of pyruvate, and Succinyl CoA synthetase for the generation of succinyl CoA combined with a very low flux through the succinate – oxaloacetate segment of the tricarboxylic acid cycle. We confirm that M. tuberculosis can fix carbon from CO2 into biomass. As the human host is abundant in CO2 this finding requires further investigation in vivo as CO2 fixation may provide a point of vulnerability that could be targeted with novel drugs. This study also provides a platform for further studies into the metabolism of M. tuberculosis using 13C-MFA.
Author Summary
The role of the enzyme isocitrate lyase (ICL) in the metabolism of Mycobacterium tuberculosis has been intensively studied since the demonstration that both of the isocitrate lyase genes encoded by this pathogen, icl1 and icl2 (although some strains only have icl1) are essential for the survival of this pathogen in the host. This finding has been generally interpreted as being due to a shift to the consumption of fats in the host. We previously demonstrated increased ICL activity when the vaccine strain of M. tuberculosis (BCG) was growing slowly on carbohydrates, suggesting a more extended role for ICL than just fat metabolism. Here we show that the gene icl1 is actually essential for slow growth on glycerol. By feeding BCG and M. tuberculosis cells isotopically labeled carbon sources and using a combination of experimental and computational analysis we identified a novel metabolic route for carbohydrate metabolism in which ICL is a key enzyme. We also demonstrated that M. tuberculosis is able to acquire biomass carbon from CO2. As CO2 is abundant in the human host, inhibition of CO2 fixation could be exploited in the development of novel drug treatments against tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3141028  PMID: 21814509
7.  Roles of the Glyoxylate and Methylcitrate Cycles in Sexual Development and Virulence in the Cereal Pathogen Gibberella zeae▿ † 
Eukaryotic Cell  2009;8(8):1155-1164.
The glyoxylate and methylcitrate cycles are involved in the metabolism of two- or three-carbon compounds in fungi. To elucidate the role(s) of these pathways in Gibberella zeae, which causes head blight in cereal crops, we focused on the functions of G. zeae orthologs (GzICL1 and GzMCL1) of the genes that encode isocitrate lyase (ICL) and methylisocitrate lyase (MCL), respectively, key enzymes in each cycle. The deletion of GzICL1 (ΔGzICL1) caused defects in growth on acetate and in perithecium (sexual fruiting body) formation but not in virulence on barley and wheat, indicating that GzICL1 acts as the ICL of the glyoxylate cycle and is essential for self-fertility in G. zeae. In contrast, the ΔGzMCL1 strains failed to grow on propionate but exhibited no major changes in other traits, suggesting that GzMCL1 is required for the methylcitrate cycle in G. zeae. Interestingly, double deletion of both GzICL1 and GzMCL1 caused significantly reduced virulence on host plants, indicating that both GzICL1 and GzMCL1 have redundant functions for plant infection in G. zeae. Thus, both GzICL1 and GzMCL1 may play important roles in determining major mycological and pathological traits of G. zeae by participating in different metabolic pathways for the use of fatty acids.
PMCID: PMC2725564  PMID: 19525419
8.  Peroxisome Function Regulates Growth on Glucose in the Basidiomycete Fungus Cryptococcus neoformans▿  
Eukaryotic Cell  2006;6(1):60-72.
The function of the peroxisomes was examined in the pathogenic basidiomycete Cryptococcus neoformans. Recent studies reveal the glyoxylate pathway is required for virulence of diverse microbial pathogens of plants and animals. One exception is C. neoformans, in which isocitrate lyase (encoded by ICL1) was previously shown not to be required for virulence, and here this was extended to exclude also a role for malate synthase (encoded by MLS1). The role of peroxisomes, in which the glyoxylate pathway enzymes are localized in many organisms, was examined by mutation of two genes (PEX1 and PEX6) encoding AAA (ATPases associated with various cellular activities)-type proteins required for peroxisome formation. The pex1 and pex6 deletion mutants were unable to localize the fluorescent DsRED-SKL protein to peroxisomal punctate structures, in contrast to wild-type cells. pex1 and pex6 single mutants and a pex1 pex6 double mutant exhibit identical phenotypes, including abolished growth on fatty acids but no growth difference on acetate. Because both icl1 and mls1 mutants are unable to grow on acetate as the sole carbon source, these findings demonstrate that the glyoxylate pathway can function efficiently outside the peroxisome in C. neoformans. The pex1 mutant exhibits wild-type virulence in a murine inhalation model and in an insect host, demonstrating that peroxisomes are not required for virulence under these conditions. An unusual phenotype of the pex1 and pex6 mutants was that they grew poorly with glucose as the carbon source, but nearly wild type with galactose, which suggested impaired hexokinase function and that C. neoformans peroxisomes might function analogously to the glycosomes of the trypanosomid parasites. Deletion of the hexokinase HXK2 gene reduced growth in the presence of glucose and suppressed the growth defect of the pex1 mutant on glucose. The hexokinase 2 protein of C. neoformans contains a predicted peroxisome targeting signal (type 2) motif; however, Hxk2 fused to fluorescent proteins was not localized to peroxisomes. Thus, we hypothesize that glucose or glycolytic metabolites are utilized in the peroxisome by an as yet unidentified enzyme or regulate a pathway required by the fungus in the absence of peroxisomes.
PMCID: PMC1800366  PMID: 17041184
9.  The Saccharomyces cerevisiae ICL2 Gene Encodes a Mitochondrial 2-Methylisocitrate Lyase Involved in Propionyl-Coenzyme A Metabolism 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(24):7007-7013.
The Saccharomyces cerevisiae ICL1 gene encodes isocitrate lyase, an essential enzyme for growth on ethanol and acetate. Previous studies have demonstrated that the highly homologous ICL2 gene (YPR006c) is transcribed during the growth of wild-type cells on ethanol. However, even when multiple copies are introduced, ICL2 cannot complement the growth defect of icl1 null mutants. It has therefore been suggested that ICL2 encodes a nonsense mRNA or nonfunctional protein. In the methylcitrate cycle of propionyl-coenzyme A metabolism, 2-methylisocitrate is converted to succinate and pyruvate, a reaction similar to that catalyzed by isocitrate lyase. To investigate whether ICL2 encodes a specific 2-methylisocitrate lyase, isocitrate lyase and 2-methylisocitrate lyase activities were assayed in cell extracts of wild-type S. cerevisiae and of isogenic icl1, icl2, and icl1 icl2 null mutants. Isocitrate lyase activity was absent in icl1 and icl1 icl2 null mutants, whereas in contrast, 2-methylisocitrate lyase activity was detected in the wild type and single icl mutants but not in the icl1 icl2 mutant. This demonstrated that ICL2 encodes a specific 2-methylisocitrate lyase and that the ICL1-encoded isocitrate lyase exhibits a low but significant activity with 2-methylisocitrate. Subcellular fractionation studies and experiments with an ICL2-green fluorescent protein fusion demonstrated that the ICL2-encoded 2-methylisocitrate lyase is located in the mitochondrial matrix. Similar to that of ICL1, transcription of ICL2 is subject to glucose catabolite repression. In glucose-limited cultures, growth with threonine as a nitrogen source resulted in a ca. threefold induction of ICL2 mRNA levels and of 2-methylisocitrate lyase activity in cell extracts relative to cultures grown with ammonia as the nitrogen source. This is consistent with an involvement of the 2-methylcitrate cycle in threonine catabolism.
PMCID: PMC94827  PMID: 11092862
10.  A Novel Role of the PrpR as a Transcription Factor Involved in the Regulation of Methylcitrate Pathway in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43651.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the pathogen that causes tuberculosis, presumably utilizes fatty acids as a major carbon source during infection within the host. Metabolism of even-chain-length fatty acids yields acetyl-CoA, whereas metabolism of odd-chain-length fatty acids additionally yields propionyl-CoA. Utilization of these compounds by tubercle bacilli requires functional glyoxylate and methylcitrate cycles, respectively. Enzymes involved in both pathways are essential for M. tuberculosis viability and persistence during growth on fatty acids. However, little is known about regulatory factors responsible for adjusting the expression of genes encoding these enzymes to particular growth conditions. Here, we characterized the novel role of PrpR as a transcription factor that is directly involved in regulating genes encoding the key enzymes of methylcitrate (methylcitrate dehydratase [PrpD] and methylcitrate synthase [PrpC]) and glyoxylate (isocitrate lyase [Icl1]) cycles. Using cell-free systems and intact cells, we demonstrated an interaction of PrpR protein with prpDC and icl1 promoter regions and identified a consensus sequence recognized by PrpR. Moreover, we showed that an M. tuberculosis prpR-deletion strain exhibits impaired growth in vitro on propionate as the sole carbon source. Real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction confirmed that PrpR acts as a transcriptional activator of prpDC and icl1 genes when propionate is the main carbon source. Similar results were also obtained for a non-pathogenic Mycobacterium smegmatis strain. Additionally, we found that ramB, a prpR paralog that controls the glyoxylate cycle, is negatively regulated by PrpR. Our data demonstrate that PrpR is essential for the utilization of odd-chain-length fatty acids by tubercle bacilli. Since PrpR also acts as a ramB repressor, our findings suggest that it plays a key role in regulating expression of enzymes involved in both glyoxylate and methylcitrate pathways.
PMCID: PMC3420887  PMID: 22916289
11.  Investigation of the glyoxysome-peroxisome transition in germinating cucumber cotyledons using double-label immunoelectron microscopy 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1985;101(4):1288-1299.
Microbodies in the cotyledons of cucumber seedlings perform two successive metabolic functions during early postgerminative development. During the first 4 or 5 d, glyoxylate cycle enzymes accumulate in microbodies called glyoxysomes. Beginning at about day 3, light-induced activities of enzymes involved in photorespiratory glycolate metabolism accumulate rapidly in microbodies. As the cotyledonary microbodies undergo a functional transition from glyoxysomal to peroxisomal metabolism, both sets of enzymes are present at the same time, either within two distinct populations of microbodies with different functions or within a single population of microbodies with a dual function. We have used protein A-gold immunoelectron microscopy to detect two glyoxylate cycle enzymes, isocitrate lyase (ICL) and malate synthase, and two glycolate pathway enzymes, serine:glyoxylate aminotransferase (SGAT) and hydroxypyruvate reductase, in microbodies of transition-stage (day 4) cotyledons. Double-label immunoelectron microscopy was used to demonstrate directly the co-existence of ICL and SGAT within individual microbodies, thereby discrediting the two-population hypothesis. Quantitation of protein A- gold labeling density confirmed that labeling was specific for microbodies. Quantitation of immunolabeling for ICL or SGAT in microbodies adjacent to lipid bodies, to chloroplasts, or to both organelles revealed very similar labeling densities in these three categories, suggesting that concentrations of glyoxysomal and peroxisomal enzymes in transition-stage microbodies probably cannot be predicted based on the apparent associations of microbodies with other organelles.
PMCID: PMC2113938  PMID: 3930507
12.  Role and control of isocitrate lyase in Candida lipolytica. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1980;144(2):692-697.
Mutants of Candida lipolytica that were unable to grow on acetate but able to utilize succinate or glycerol as a sole carbon source were isolated. Amongst the mutants isolated, one strain (Icl-) was specifically deficient in isocitrate lyase activity, whereas another strain (Acos-) was deficient in acetyl coenzyme A synthetase activity. Since the Icl- mutant could not grow either on n-alkane or its derivatives, such as fatty acid and long-chain dicarboxylic acid, any anaplerotic route other than the glyoxylate pathway was inconceivable as far as growth on these carbon sources was concerned. Acetyl coenzyme A is most likely a metabolic inducer of isocitrate lyase and malate synthase, because the Acos- mutant was characterized by the least susceptibility to induction of these enzymes by acetate. The structural gene for isocitrate lyase was most probably impaired in the Icl- mutant, since revertants (Icl-) produced thermolabile isocitrate lyase. The production of isocitrate from n-alkane by the revertants was enhanced in comparison with the parental strain.
PMCID: PMC294719  PMID: 7430068
13.  Relationship of the Glyoxylate Pathway to the Pathogenesis of Cryptococcus neoformans  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(10):5684-5694.
Functional genomics has become a major focus in the study of microbial pathogenesis. This study used a functional genomic tool, differential display reverse transcription-PCR, to identify a transcriptional profile of Cryptococcus neoformans cells as they produced meningitis in an immunosuppressed host. This serial global gene expression during infection allowed for the identification of up- and down-regulated genes during infection. During this profiling, a single gene for the enzyme isocitrate lyase (ICL1) was found to be up regulated at 1 week of infection in a rabbit meningitis model and during a time of maximum host cellular response. The finding suggested that this enzyme and the glyoxylate shunt pathway are important to this yeast's energy production during infection. However, site-directed icl1 mutants had no apparent virulence defect in two animal models and no growth defect within macrophages. These observations suggest that although the yeast responded to a certain environmental cue(s) by an increase in ICL1 expression during infection, this gene was not necessary for progression of a C. neoformans infection. Compounds that specifically target only ICL1 are unlikely to cripple C. neoformans growth in vivo.
PMCID: PMC128360  PMID: 12228298
14.  Potential Inhibitors for Isocitrate Lyase of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Non-M. tuberculosis: A Summary 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:895453.
Isocitrate lyase (ICL) is the first enzyme involved in glyoxylate cycle. Many plants and microorganisms are relying on glyoxylate cycle enzymes to survive upon downregulation of tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle), especially Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). In fact, ICL is a potential drug target for MTB in dormancy. With the urge for new antitubercular drug to overcome tuberculosis treat such as multidrug resistant strain and HIV-coinfection, the pace of drug discovery has to be increased. There are many approaches to discovering potential inhibitor for MTB ICL and we hereby review the updated list of them. The potential inhibitors can be either a natural compound or synthetic compound. Moreover, these compounds are not necessary to be discovered only from MTB ICL, as it can also be discovered by a non-MTB ICL. Our review is categorized into four sections, namely, (a) MTB ICL with natural compounds; (b) MTB ICL with synthetic compounds; (c) non-MTB ICL with natural compounds; and (d) non-MTB ICL with synthetic compounds. Each of the approaches is capable of overcoming different challenges of inhibitor discovery. We hope that this paper will benefit the discovery of better inhibitor for ICL.
PMCID: PMC4306415  PMID: 25649791
15.  Glyoxylate rather than ascorbate is an efficient precursor for oxalate biosynthesis in rice 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(6):1625-1634.
Oxalate is widely distributed in the plant kingdom. While excess oxalate in food crops is detrimental to animal and human health, it may play various functional roles in plants, particularly for coping with environmental stresses. Understanding its biosynthetic mechanism in plants, therefore, becomes increasingly important both theoretically and practically. However, it is still a matter of debate as to what precursor and pathway are ultimately used for oxalate biosynthesis in plants. In this study, both physiological and molecular approaches were applied to address these questions. First, it was observed that when glycolate or glyoxylate was fed into detached leaves, both organic acids were equally effective in stimulating oxalate accumulation. In addition, the stimulation could be completely inhibited by cysteine, a glyoxylate scavenger that forms cysteine–glyoxylate adducts. To verify the role of glyoxylate further, various transgenic plants were generated, in which several genes involved in glyoxylate metabolism [i.e. SGAT (serine-glyoxylate aminotransferase), GGAT (glutamate-glyoxylate aminotransferase), HPR (hydroxypyruvate reductase), ICL (isocitrate lyase)], were transcriptionally regulated through RNAi or over-expression. Analyses on these transgenic plants consistently revealed that glyoxylate acted as an efficient precursor for oxalate biosynthesis in rice. Unexpectedly, it was found that oxalate accumulation was not correlated with photorespiration, even though this pathway is known to be a major source of glyoxylate. Further, when GLDH (L-galactono-1,4-lactone dehydrogenase), a key enzyme gene for ascorbate biosynthesis, was down-regulated, the oxalate abundance remained constant, despite ascorbate having been largely reduced as expected in these transgenic plants. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that glyoxylate rather than ascorbate is an efficient precursor for oxalate biosynthesis, and that oxalate accumulation and regulation do not necessarily depend on photorespiration, possibly due to the occurrence of the anaplerotic reaction that may compensate for glyoxylate formation in rice.
PMCID: PMC2914580  PMID: 20194922
Ascorbate; glycolate; glyoxylate; oxalate; rice
16.  Subcellular localization of glyoxylate cycle enzymes in Ascaris suum larvae 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1976;70(2):374-383.
Evidence is presented on the particulate nature of glyoxylate cycle enzymes in metazoa with the use of 15-day old larvae of the nematode Ascaris suum. Homogenization procedures were developed to disrupt the resistant nematode cuticle. Malate synthase and isocitrate lyase, key enzymes of the glyoxylate cycle, consistently sedimented with mitochondrial enzymes in differential pellets while catalase, a major peroxisomal enzyme, was always soluble. Isopycnic sucrose gradient centrifugation of the differential pellet yielded two protein peaks: one at 1.18 g/cm3 (characteristic for mitochondria), and another at 1.23 g/cm3 (common for glyoxysomes and peroxisomes). Electron microscopy of these fractions revealed that the lighter peak consisted primarily of mitochondria, while the heavier band contained proteinaceous bodies termed "dense granules" morphologically resembling microbodies. SIgnificantly, both malate synthase and isocitrate lyase cosedimented with the mitochondrial marker enzymes in the lighter peak (1.18 g/cm3) and not with the dense granules. Further purification of mitochondria, accomplished by separating dense granules with a step gradient before isopycnic centrifugation, substantiated the evidence that microbodies (glyoxysomes) do not occur in these nematode larvae. Rough-surfaced membranes were alternatively considered as the subcellular site, but the evidence tends to favor localization of the glyoxylate bypass enzymes in the mitochondria.
PMCID: PMC2109822  PMID: 939782
17.  Solvent Isotope-induced Equilibrium Perturbation for Isocitrate Lyase 
Biochemistry  2013;52(51):9286-9293.
Isocitrate lyase (ICL) catalyzes the reversible retro-aldol cleavage of isocitrate to generate glyoxylate and succinate. ICL is the first enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt, which allows for the anaplerosis of citric acid cycle intermediates under nutrient limiting conditions. In Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the source of ICL for these studies, ICL is vital for the persistence phase of the bacteria’s life cycle. Solvent kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) in the direction of isocitrate cleavage of D2OV = 2.0 ± 0.1 and D2O[V/Kisocitrate] = 2.2 ± 0.3 arise from the initial deprotonation of the C2 hydroxyl group of isocitrate or the protonation of the aci-acid of succinate product of the isocitrate aldol cleavage by a solvent-derived proton. This KIE suggested that an equilibrium mixture of all protiated isocitrate, glyoxylate and succinate prepared in D2O, would undergo transient changes in equilibrium concentrations as a result of the solvent KIE and solvent-derived deuterium incorporation into both succinate and isocitrate. No change in the isotopic composition of glyoxylate was expected or observed. We have directly monitored the changing concentrations of all isotopic species of all reactants and products using a combination of NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Continuous monitoring of glyoxylate by 1H NMR spectroscopy shows a clear equilibrium perturbation in D2O. The final equilibrium isotopic composition of reactants in D2O revealed di-deuterated succinate, protiated glyoxylate, and mono-deuterated isocitrate, with the transient appearance and disappearance of mono-deuterated succinate. A model for the equilibrium perturbation of substrate species, and their time-dependent isotopic composition is presented.
PMCID: PMC3905770  PMID: 24261638
isocitrate lyase; equilibrium perturbation; isotope effects; tuberculosis
18.  Multiple Contributions of Peroxisomal Metabolic Function to Fungal Pathogenicity in Colletotrichum lagenarium 
In Colletotrichum lagenarium, which is the causal agent of cucumber anthracnose, PEX6 is required for peroxisome biogenesis and appressorium-mediated infection. To verify the roles of peroxisome-associated metabolism in fungal pathogenicity, we isolated and functionally characterized ICL1 of C. lagenarium, which encodes isocitrate lyase involved in the glyoxylate cycle in peroxisomes. The icl1 mutants failed to utilize fatty acids and acetate for growth. Although Icl1 has no typical peroxisomal targeting signals, expression analysis of the GFP-Icl1 fusion protein indicated that Icl1 localizes in peroxisomes. These results indicate that the glyoxylate cycle that occurs inside the peroxisome is required for fatty acid and acetate metabolism for growth. Importantly, in contrast with the pex6 mutants that form nonmelanized appressoria, the icl1 mutants formed appressoria that were highly pigmented with melanin, suggesting that the glyoxylate cycle is not essential for melanin biosynthesis in appressoria. However, the icl1 mutants exhibited a severe reduction in virulence. Appressoria of the icl1 mutants failed to develop penetration hyphae in the host plant, suggesting that ICL1 is involved in host invasion. The addition of glucose partially restored virulence of the icl1 mutant. Heat shock treatment of the host plant also enabled the icl1 mutants to develop lesions, implying that the infection defect of the icl1 mutant is associated with plant defense. Together with the requirement of PEX6 for appressorial melanization, our findings suggest that peroxisomal metabolic pathways play functional roles in appressorial melanization and subsequent host invasion steps, and the latter step requires the glyoxylate cycle.
PMCID: PMC1563638  PMID: 16957261
19.  The Evolutionary Rewiring of Ubiquitination Targets Has Reprogrammed the Regulation of Carbon Assimilation in the Pathogenic Yeast Candida albicans 
mBio  2012;3(6):e00495-12.
Microbes must assimilate carbon to grow and colonize their niches. Transcript profiling has suggested that Candida albicans, a major pathogen of humans, regulates its carbon assimilation in an analogous fashion to the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, repressing metabolic pathways required for the use of alterative nonpreferred carbon sources when sugars are available. However, we show that there is significant dislocation between the proteome and transcriptome in C. albicans. Glucose triggers the degradation of the ICL1 and PCK1 transcripts in C. albicans, yet isocitrate lyase (Icl1) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (Pck1) are stable and are retained. Indeed, numerous enzymes required for the assimilation of carboxylic and fatty acids are not degraded in response to glucose. However, when expressed in C. albicans, S. cerevisiae Icl1 (ScIcl1) is subjected to glucose-accelerated degradation, indicating that like S. cerevisiae, this pathogen has the molecular apparatus required to execute ubiquitin-dependent catabolite inactivation. C. albicans Icl1 (CaIcl1) lacks analogous ubiquitination sites and is stable under these conditions, but the addition of a ubiquitination site programs glucose-accelerated degradation of CaIcl1. Also, catabolite inactivation is slowed in C. albicans ubi4 cells. Ubiquitination sites are present in gluconeogenic and glyoxylate cycle enzymes from S. cerevisiae but absent from their C. albicans homologues. We conclude that evolutionary rewiring of ubiquitination targets has meant that following glucose exposure, C. albicans retains key metabolic functions, allowing it to continue to assimilate alternative carbon sources. This metabolic flexibility may be critical during infection, facilitating the rapid colonization of dynamic host niches containing complex arrays of nutrients.
Pathogenic microbes must assimilate a range of carbon sources to grow and colonize their hosts. Current views about carbon assimilation in the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans are strongly influenced by the Saccharomyces cerevisiae paradigm in which cells faced with choices of nutrients first use energetically favorable sugars, degrading enzymes required for the assimilation of less favorable alternative carbon sources. We show that this is not the case in C. albicans because there has been significant evolutionary rewiring of the molecular signals that promote enzyme degradation in response to glucose. As a result, this major pathogen of humans retains enzymes required for the utilization of physiologically relevant carbon sources such as lactic acid and fatty acids, allowing it to continue to use these host nutrients even when glucose is available. This phenomenon probably enhances efficient colonization of host niches where sugars are only transiently available.
PMCID: PMC3520108  PMID: 23232717
20.  Peroxisomal Fatty Acid β-Oxidation Is Not Essential for Virulence of Candida albicans▿  
Eukaryotic Cell  2006;5(11):1847-1856.
Phagocytic cells form the first line of defense against infections by the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Recent in vitro gene expression data suggest that upon phagocytosis by macrophages, C. albicans reprograms its metabolism to convert fatty acids into glucose by inducing the enzymes of the glyoxylate cycle and fatty acid β-oxidation pathway. Here, we asked whether fatty acid β-oxidation, a metabolic pathway localized to peroxisomes, is essential for fungal virulence by constructing two C. albicans double deletion strains: a pex5Δ/pex5Δ mutant, which is disturbed in the import of most peroxisomal enzymes, and a fox2Δ/fox2Δ mutant, which lacks the second enzyme of the β-oxidation pathway. Both mutant strains had strongly reduced β-oxidation activity and, accordingly, were unable to grow on media with fatty acids as a sole carbon source. Surprisingly, only the fox2Δ/fox2Δ mutant, and not the pex5Δ/pex5Δ mutant, displayed strong growth defects on nonfermentable carbon sources other than fatty acids (e.g., acetate, ethanol, or lactate) and showed attenuated virulence in a mouse model for systemic candidiasis. The degree of virulence attenuation of the fox2Δ/fox2Δ mutant was comparable to that of the icl1Δ/icl1Δ mutant, which lacks a functional glyoxylate cycle and also fails to grow on nonfermentable carbon sources. Together, our data suggest that peroxisomal fatty acid β-oxidation is not essential for virulence of C. albicans, implying that the attenuated virulence of the fox2Δ/fox2Δ mutant is largely due to a dysfunctional glyoxylate cycle.
PMCID: PMC1694795  PMID: 16963628
21.  Schizosaccharomyces pombe Checkpoint Response to DNA Interstrand Cross-Links 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(13):4728-4737.
Drugs that produce covalent interstrand cross-links (ICLs) in DNA remain central to the treatment of cancer, but the cell cycle checkpoints activated by ICLs have received little attention. We have used the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, to elucidate the checkpoint responses to the ICL-inducing anticancer drugs nitrogen mustard and mitomycin C. First we confirmed that the repair pathways acting on ICLs in this yeast are similar to those in the main organisms studied to date (Escherichia coli, budding yeast, and mammalian cells), principally nucleotide excision repair and homologous recombination. We also identified and disrupted the S. pombe homologue of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae SNM1/PSO2 ICL repair gene and found that this activity is required for normal resistance to cross-linking agents, but not other forms of DNA damage. Survival and biochemical analysis indicated a key role for the “checkpoint Rad” family acting through the chk1-dependent DNA damage checkpoint in the ICL response. Rhp9-dependent phosphorylation of Chk1 correlates with G2 arrest following ICL induction. In cells able to bypass the G2 block, a second-cycle (S-phase) arrest was observed. Only a transient activation of the Cds1 DNA replication checkpoint factor occurs following ICL formation in wild-type cells, but this is increased and persists in G2 arrest-deficient mutants. This likely reflects the fraction of cells escaping the G2 damage checkpoint and arresting in the subsequent S phase due to ICL replication blocks. Disruption of cds1 confers increased resistance to ICLs, suggesting that this second-cycle S-phase arrest might be a lethal event.
PMCID: PMC164842  PMID: 12808110
22.  The Apparent Malate Synthase Activity of Rhodobacter sphaeroides Is Due to Two Paralogous Enzymes, (3S)-Malyl-Coenzyme A (CoA)/β-Methylmalyl-CoA Lyase and (3S)- Malyl-CoA Thioesterase▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(5):1249-1258.
Assimilation of acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) is an essential process in many bacteria that proceeds via the glyoxylate cycle or the ethylmalonyl-CoA pathway. In both assimilation strategies, one of the final products is malate that is formed by the condensation of acetyl-CoA with glyoxylate. In the glyoxylate cycle this reaction is catalyzed by malate synthase, whereas in the ethylmalonyl-CoA pathway the reaction is separated into two proteins: malyl-CoA lyase, a well-known enzyme catalyzing the Claisen condensation of acetyl-CoA with glyoxylate and yielding malyl-CoA, and an unidentified malyl-CoA thioesterase that hydrolyzes malyl-CoA into malate and CoA. In this study the roles of Mcl1 and Mcl2, two malyl-CoA lyase homologs in Rhodobacter sphaeroides, were investigated by gene inactivation and biochemical studies. Mcl1 is a true (3S)-malyl-CoA lyase operating in the ethylmalonyl-CoA pathway. Notably, Mcl1 is a promiscuous enzyme and catalyzes not only the condensation of acetyl-CoA and glyoxylate but also the cleavage of β-methylmalyl-CoA into glyoxylate and propionyl-CoA during acetyl-CoA assimilation. In contrast, Mcl2 was shown to be the sought (3S)-malyl-CoA thioesterase in the ethylmalonyl-CoA pathway, which specifically hydrolyzes (3S)-malyl-CoA but does not use β-methylmalyl-CoA or catalyze a lyase or condensation reaction. The identification of Mcl2 as thioesterase extends the enzyme functions of malyl-CoA lyase homologs that have been known only as “Claisen condensation” enzymes so far. Mcl1 and Mcl2 are both related to malate synthase, an enzyme which catalyzes both a Claisen condensation and thioester hydrolysis reaction.
PMCID: PMC2820834  PMID: 20047909
23.  l-Malyl-Coenzyme A/β-Methylmalyl-Coenzyme A Lyase Is Involved in Acetate Assimilation of the Isocitrate Lyase-Negative Bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(4):1415-1425.
Cell extracts of Rhodobacter capsulatus grown on acetate contained an apparent malate synthase activity but lacked isocitrate lyase activity. Therefore, R. capsulatus cannot use the glyoxylate cycle for acetate assimilation, and a different pathway must exist. It is shown that the apparent malate synthase activity is due to the combination of a malyl-coenzyme A (CoA) lyase and a malyl-CoA-hydrolyzing enzyme. Malyl-CoA lyase activity was 20-fold up-regulated in acetate-grown cells versus glucose-grown cells. Malyl-CoA lyase was purified 250-fold with a recovery of 6%. The enzyme catalyzed not only the reversible condensation of glyoxylate and acetyl-CoA to l-malyl-CoA but also the reversible condensation of glyoxylate and propionyl-CoA to β-methylmalyl-CoA. Enzyme activity was stimulated by divalent ions with preference for Mn2+ and was inhibited by EDTA. The N-terminal amino acid sequence was determined, and a corresponding gene coding for a 34.2-kDa protein was identified and designated mcl1. The native molecular mass of the purified protein was 195 ± 20 kDa, indicating a homohexameric composition. A homologous mcl1 gene was found in the genomes of the isocitrate lyase-negative bacteria Rhodobacter sphaeroides and Rhodospirillum rubrum in similar genomic environments. For Streptomyces coelicolor and Methylobacterium extorquens, mcl1 homologs are located within gene clusters implicated in acetate metabolism. We therefore propose that l-malyl-CoA/β-methylmalyl-CoA lyase encoded by mcl1 is involved in acetate assimilation by R. capsulatus and possibly other glyoxylate cycle-negative bacteria.
PMCID: PMC545638  PMID: 15687206
24.  Analysis and functional classification of transcripts from the nematode Meloidogyne incognita 
Genome Biology  2003;4(4):R26.
As an entrée to characterizing plant parasitic nematode genomes, 5,700 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from the infective second-stage larvae (L2) of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita have been analyzed. In addition to identifying putative nematode-specific and Tylenchida-specific genes, sequencing revealed previously uncharacterized horizontal gene transfer candidates in Meloidogyne with high identity to rhizobacterial genes.
Plant parasitic nematodes are major pathogens of most crops. Molecular characterization of these species as well as the development of new techniques for control can benefit from genomic approaches. As an entrée to characterizing plant parasitic nematode genomes, we analyzed 5,700 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from second-stage larvae (L2) of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita.
From these, 1,625 EST clusters were formed and classified by function using the Gene Ontology (GO) hierarchy and the Kyoto KEGG database. L2 larvae, which represent the infective stage of the life cycle before plant invasion, express a diverse array of ligand-binding proteins and abundant cytoskeletal proteins. L2 are structurally similar to Caenorhabditis elegans dauer larva and the presence of transcripts encoding glyoxylate pathway enzymes in the M. incognita clusters suggests that root-knot nematode larvae metabolize lipid stores while in search of a host. Homology to other species was observed in 79% of translated cluster sequences, with the C. elegans genome providing more information than any other source. In addition to identifying putative nematode-specific and Tylenchida-specific genes, sequencing revealed previously uncharacterized horizontal gene transfer candidates in Meloidogyne with high identity to rhizobacterial genes including homologs of nodL acetyltransferase and novel cellulases.
With sequencing from plant parasitic nematodes accelerating, the approaches to transcript characterization described here can be applied to more extensive datasets and also provide a foundation for more complex genome analyses.
PMCID: PMC154577  PMID: 12702207
25.  Molecular evolution of the polyamine oxidase gene family in Metazoa 
Polyamine oxidase enzymes catalyze the oxidation of polyamines and acetylpolyamines. Since polyamines are basic regulators of cell growth and proliferation, their homeostasis is crucial for cell life. Members of the polyamine oxidase gene family have been identified in a wide variety of animals, including vertebrates, arthropodes, nematodes, placozoa, as well as in plants and fungi. Polyamine oxidases (PAOs) from yeast can oxidize spermine, N1-acetylspermine, and N1-acetylspermidine, however, in vertebrates two different enzymes, namely spermine oxidase (SMO) and acetylpolyamine oxidase (APAO), specifically catalyze the oxidation of spermine, and N1-acetylspermine/N1-acetylspermidine, respectively. Little is known about the molecular evolutionary history of these enzymes. However, since the yeast PAO is able to catalyze the oxidation of both acetylated and non acetylated polyamines, and in vertebrates these functions are addressed by two specialized polyamine oxidase subfamilies (APAO and SMO), it can be hypothesized an ancestral reference for the former enzyme from which the latter would have been derived.
We analysed 36 SMO, 26 APAO, and 14 PAO homologue protein sequences from 54 taxa including various vertebrates and invertebrates. The analysis of the full-length sequences and the principal domains of vertebrate and invertebrate PAOs yielded consensus primary protein sequences for vertebrate SMOs and APAOs, and invertebrate PAOs. This analysis, coupled to molecular modeling techniques, also unveiled sequence regions that confer specific structural and functional properties, including substrate specificity, by the different PAO subfamilies. Molecular phylogenetic trees revealed a basal position of all the invertebrates PAO enzymes relative to vertebrate SMOs and APAOs. PAOs from insects constitute a monophyletic clade. Two PAO variants sampled in the amphioxus are basal to the dichotomy between two well supported monophyletic clades including, respectively, all the SMOs and APAOs from vertebrates. The two vertebrate monophyletic clades clustered strictly mirroring the organismal phylogeny of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Evidences from comparative genomic analysis, structural evolution and functional divergence in a phylogenetic framework across Metazoa suggested an evolutionary scenario where the ancestor PAO coding sequence, present in invertebrates as an orthologous gene, has been duplicated in the vertebrate branch to originate the paralogous SMO and APAO genes. A further genome evolution event concerns the SMO gene of placental, but not marsupial and monotremate, mammals which increased its functional variation following an alternative splicing (AS) mechanism.
In this study the explicit integration in a phylogenomic framework of phylogenetic tree construction, structure prediction, and biochemical function data/prediction, allowed inferring the molecular evolutionary history of the PAO gene family and to disambiguate paralogous genes related by duplication event (SMO and APAO) and orthologous genes related by speciation events (PAOs, SMOs/APAOs). Further, while in vertebrates experimental data corroborate SMO and APAO molecular function predictions, in invertebrates the finding of a supported phylogenetic clusters of insect PAOs and the co-occurrence of two PAO variants in the amphioxus urgently claim the need for future structure-function studies.
PMCID: PMC3517346  PMID: 22716069

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