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1.  Functional and structural characterization of a thermostable acetyl esterase from Thermotoga maritima 
Proteins  2012;80(6):1545-1559.
TM0077 from Thermotoga maritima is a member of the carbohydrate esterase family 7 and is active on a variety of acetylated compounds, including cephalosporin C. TM0077 esterase activity is confined to short-chain acyl esters (C2-C3), and is optimal around 100°C and pH 7.5. The positional specificity of TM0077 was investigated using 4-nitrophenyl-β-D-xylopyranoside monoacetates as substrates in a β-xylosidase-coupled assay. TM0077 hydrolyzes acetate at positions 2, 3 and 4 with equal efficiency. No activity was detected on xylan or acetylated xylan, which implies that TM0077 is an acetyl esterase and not an acetyl xylan esterase as currently annotated. Selenomethionine-substituted and native structures of TM0077 were determined at 2.1 Å and 2.5 Å resolution, respectively, revealing a classic α/β-hydrolase fold. TM0077 assembles into a doughnut-shaped hexamer with small tunnels on either side leading to an inner cavity, which contains the six catalytic centers. Structures of TM0077 with covalently bound phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF) and paraoxon were determined to 2.4 Å and 2.1 Å, respectively, and confirmed that both inhibitors bind covalently to the catalytic serine (Ser188). Upon binding of inhibitor, the catalytic serine adopts an altered conformation, as observed in other esterase and lipases, and supports a previously proposed catalytic mechanism in which this Ser hydroxyl rotation prevents reversal of the reaction and allows access of a water molecule for completion of the reaction.
doi:10.1002/prot.24041
PMCID: PMC3348966  PMID: 22411095
Acetyl esterase; Thermotoga maritima; crystal structure; α/β hydrolase; inhibitor; serine rotation
2.  d-2,3-Butanediol Production Due to Heterologous Expression of an Acetoin Reductase in Clostridium acetobutylicum ▿ †  
Acetoin reductase (ACR) catalyzes the conversion of acetoin to 2,3-butanediol. Under certain conditions, Clostridium acetobutylicum ATCC 824 (and strains derived from it) generates both d- and l-stereoisomers of acetoin, but because of the absence of an ACR enzyme, it does not produce 2,3-butanediol. A gene encoding ACR from Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052 was functionally expressed in C. acetobutylicum under the control of two strong promoters, the constitutive thl promoter and the late exponential adc promoter. Both ACR-overproducing strains were grown in batch cultures, during which 89 to 90% of the natively produced acetoin was converted to 20 to 22 mM d-2,3-butanediol. The addition of a racemic mixture of acetoin led to the production of both d-2,3-butanediol and meso-2,3-butanediol. A metabolic network that is in agreement with the experimental data is proposed. Native 2,3-butanediol production is a first step toward a potential homofermentative 2-butanol-producing strain of C. acetobutylicum.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01616-10
PMCID: PMC3126369  PMID: 21335380
3.  Occurrence of L-iduronic acid and putative D-glucuronyl C5-epimerases in prokaryotes 
Glycoconjugate Journal  2011;28(2):57-66.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are polysaccharides that are typically present in a wide diversity of animal tissue. Most common GAGs are well-characterized and pharmaceutical applications exist for many of these compounds, e.g. heparin and hyaluronan. In addition, also bacterial glycosaminoglycan-like structures exist. Some of these bacterial GAGs have been characterized, but until now no bacterial GAG has been found that possesses the modifications that are characteristic for many of the animal GAGs such as sulfation and C5-epimerization. Nevertheless, the latter conversion may also occur in bacterial and archaeal GAGs, as some prokaryotic polysaccharides have been demonstrated to contain L-iduronic acid. However, experimental evidence for the enzymatic synthesis of L-iduronic acid in prokaryotes is as yet lacking. We therefore performed an in silico screen for D-glucuronyl C5-epimerases in prokaryotes. Multiple candidate C5-epimerases were found, suggesting that many more microorganisms are likely to exist possessing an L-iduronic acid residue as constituent of their cell wall polysaccharides.
doi:10.1007/s10719-011-9324-7
PMCID: PMC3068255  PMID: 21347714
Glycosaminoglycans; L-iduronic acid; D-glucuronyl C5-epimerase; Lipopolysaccharide; Capsule polysaccharide
4.  Isolation and characterization of a new CO-utilizing strain, Thermoanaerobacter thermohydrosulfuricus subsp. carboxydovorans, isolated from a geothermal spring in Turkey 
Extremophiles   2009;13(6):885-894.
A novel anaerobic, thermophilic, Gram-positive, spore-forming, and sugar-fermenting bacterium (strain TLO) was isolated from a geothermal spring in Ayaş, Turkey. The cells were straight to curved rods, 0.4–0.6 μm in diameter and 3.5–10 μm in length. Spores were terminal and round. The temperature range for growth was 40–80°C, with an optimum at 70°C. The pH optimum was between 6.3 and 6.8. Strain TLO has the capability to ferment a wide variety of mono-, di-, and polysaccharides and proteinaceous substrates, producing mainly lactate, next to acetate, ethanol, alanine, H2, and CO2. Remarkably, the bacterium was able to grow in an atmosphere of up to 25% of CO as sole electron donor. CO oxidation was coupled to H2 and CO2 formation. The G + C content of the genomic DNA was 35.1 mol%. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and the DNA–DNA hybridization data, this bacterium is most closely related to Thermoanaerobacter thermohydrosulfuricus and Thermoanaerobacter siderophilus (99% similarity for both). However, strain TLO differs from Thermoanaerobacter thermohydrosulfuricus in important aspects, such as CO-utilization and lipid composition. These differences led us to propose that strain TLO represents a subspecies of Thermoanaerobacter thermohydrosulfuricus, and we therefore name it Thermoanaerobacter thermohydrosulfuricus subsp. carboxydovorans.
doi:10.1007/s00792-009-0276-9
PMCID: PMC2767516  PMID: 19701714
Thermoanaerobacter sp.; Geothermal springs; Thermophiles; Bacteria; Thermoanaerobacter
5.  Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of an esterase with a novel domain from the hyperthermophile Thermotoga maritima  
A thermostable esterase (EstA) from Thermotoga maritima was cloned and purified. Crystals of EstA and its selenomethionine derivative were grown and diffract to beyond 2.6 Å resolution at 100 K using synchrotron radiation.
A predicted esterase (EstA) with an unusual new domain from the hyperthermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima has been cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The purified protein was crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion technique in the presence of lithium sulfate and polyethylene glycol 8000. Selenomethionine-substituted EstA crystals were obtained under the same conditions and three different-wavelength data sets were collected to 2.6 Å resolution. The crystal belongs to space group H32, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 130.2, c = 306.2 Å. There are two molecules in the asymmetric unit, with a V M of 2.9 Å3 Da−1 and 58% solvent content.
doi:10.1107/S174430910703953X
PMCID: PMC2376313  PMID: 17768353
esterases; Thermotoga maritima
6.  Carboxylic ester hydrolases from hyperthermophiles 
Extremophiles   2009;13(4):567-581.
Carboxylic ester hydrolyzing enzymes constitute a large group of enzymes that are able to catalyze the hydrolysis, synthesis or transesterification of an ester bond. They can be found in all three domains of life, including the group of hyperthermophilic bacteria and archaea. Esterases from the latter group often exhibit a high intrinsic stability, which makes them of interest them for various biotechnological applications. In this review, we aim to give an overview of all characterized carboxylic ester hydrolases from hyperthermophilic microorganisms and provide details on their substrate specificity, kinetics, optimal catalytic conditions, and stability. Approaches for the discovery of new carboxylic ester hydrolases are described. Special attention is given to the currently characterized hyperthermophilic enzymes with respect to their biochemical properties, 3D structure, and classification.
doi:10.1007/s00792-009-0260-4
PMCID: PMC2706381  PMID: 19544040
Carboxylic ester hydrolase; Esterase; Lipase; Hyperthermophile; Biochemical properties; Structure; Classification; Review
7.  Hydrogenomics of the Extremely Thermophilic Bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus▿ †  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(21):6720-6729.
Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus is an extremely thermophilic, gram-positive anaerobe which ferments cellulose-, hemicellulose- and pectin-containing biomass to acetate, CO2, and hydrogen. Its broad substrate range, high hydrogen-producing capacity, and ability to coutilize glucose and xylose make this bacterium an attractive candidate for microbial bioenergy production. Here, the complete genome sequence of C. saccharolyticus, consisting of a 2,970,275-bp circular chromosome encoding 2,679 predicted proteins, is described. Analysis of the genome revealed that C. saccharolyticus has an extensive polysaccharide-hydrolyzing capacity for cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, and starch, coupled to a large number of ABC transporters for monomeric and oligomeric sugar uptake. The components of the Embden-Meyerhof and nonoxidative pentose phosphate pathways are all present; however, there is no evidence that an Entner-Doudoroff pathway is present. Catabolic pathways for a range of sugars, including rhamnose, fucose, arabinose, glucuronate, fructose, and galactose, were identified. These pathways lead to the production of NADH and reduced ferredoxin. NADH and reduced ferredoxin are subsequently used by two distinct hydrogenases to generate hydrogen. Whole-genome transcriptome analysis revealed that there is significant upregulation of the glycolytic pathway and an ABC-type sugar transporter during growth on glucose and xylose, indicating that C. saccharolyticus coferments these sugars unimpeded by glucose-based catabolite repression. The capacity to simultaneously process and utilize a range of carbohydrates associated with biomass feedstocks is a highly desirable feature of this lignocellulose-utilizing, biofuel-producing bacterium.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00968-08
PMCID: PMC2576683  PMID: 18776029
8.  Improving low-temperature activity of Sulfolobus acidocaldarius 2-keto-3-deoxygluconate aldolase 
Archaea  2009;2(4):233-239.
Sulfolobus acidocaldarius 2-keto-3-deoxygluconate aldolase (SacKdgA) displays optimal activity at 95 °C and is studied as a model enzyme for aldol condensation reactions. For application of SacKdgA at lower temperatures, a library of randomly generated mutants was screened for improved synthesis of 2-keto-3-deoxygluconate from pyruvate and glyceraldehyde at the suboptimal temperature of 50 °C. The single mutant SacKdgA-V193A displayed a threefold increase in activity compared with wild type SacKdgA. The increased specific activity at 40–60 °C of this mutant was observed, not only for the condensation of pyruvate with glyceraldehyde, but also for several unnatural acceptor aldehydes. The optimal temperature for activity of SacKdgA-V193A was lower than for the wild type enzyme, but enzymatic stability of the mutant was similar to that of the wild type, indicating that activity and stability were uncoupled. Valine193 has Van der Waals interactions with Lysine153, which covalently binds the substrate during catalysis. The mutation V193A introduced space close to this essential residue, and the increased activity of the mutant presumably resulted from increased flexibility of Lysine153. The increased activity of SacKdgA-V193A with unaffected stability demonstrates the potential for optimizing extremely thermostable aldolases for synthesis reactions at moderate temperatures.
PMCID: PMC2686391  PMID: 19478916
biocatalysis; directed evolution; enzyme; error-prone PCR; laboratory evolution; thermophile
9.  Production and Characterization of a Thermostable Alcohol Dehydrogenase That Belongs to the Aldo-Keto Reductase Superfamily 
The gene encoding a novel alcohol dehydrogenase that belongs to the aldo-keto reductase superfamily has been identified in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus. The gene, referred to as adhD, was functionally expressed in Escherichia coli and subsequently purified to homogeneity. The enzyme has a monomeric conformation with a molecular mass of 32 kDa. The catalytic activity of the enzyme increases up to 100°C, and a half-life value of 130 min at this temperature indicates its high thermostability. AdhD exhibits a broad substrate specificity with, in general, a preference for the reduction of ketones (pH optimum, 6.1) and the oxidation of secondary alcohols (pH optimum, 8.8). Maximal specific activities were detected with 2,3-butanediol (108.3 U/mg) and diacetyl-acetoin (22.5 U/mg) in the oxidative and reductive reactions, respectively. Gas chromatrography analysis indicated that AdhD produced mainly (S)-2-pentanol (enantiomeric excess, 89%) when 2-pentanone was used as substrate. The physiological role of AdhD is discussed.
doi:10.1128/AEM.72.1.233-238.2006
PMCID: PMC1352300  PMID: 16391048
10.  Characterization of the Chlorate Reductase from Pseudomonas chloritidismutans 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(10):3210-3213.
A chlorate reductase has been purified from the chlorate-reducing strain Pseudomonas chloritidismutans. Comparison with the periplasmic (per)chlorate reductase of strain GR-1 showed that the cytoplasmic chlorate reductase of P. chloritidismutans reduced only chlorate and bromate. Differences were also found in N-terminal sequences, molecular weight, and subunit composition. Metal analysis and electron paramagnetic resonance measurements showed the presence of iron and molybdenum, which are also found in other dissimilatory oxyanion reductases.
doi:10.1128/JB.185.10.3210-3213.2003
PMCID: PMC154085  PMID: 12730181
11.  ADP-Dependent Phosphofructokinases in Mesophilic and Thermophilic Methanogenic Archaea 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(24):7145-7153.
Phosphofructokinase (PFK) is a key enzyme of the glycolytic pathway in all domains of life. Two related PFKs, ATP-dependent and PPi-dependent PFK, have been distinguished in bacteria and eucarya, as well as in some archaea. Hyperthermophilic archaea of the order Thermococcales, including Pyrococcus and Thermococcus spp., have recently been demonstrated to possess a unique ADP-dependent PFK (ADP-PFK) that appears to be phylogenetically distinct. Here, we report the presence of ADP-PFKs in glycogen-producing members of the orders Methanococcales and Methanosarcinales, including both mesophilic and thermophilic representatives. To verify the substrate specificities of the methanogenic kinases, the gene encoding the ADP-PFK from Methanococcus jannaschii was functionally expressed in Escherichia coli, and the produced enzyme was purified and characterized in detail. Compared to its counterparts from the two members of the order Thermococcales, the M. jannaschii ADP-PFK has an extremely low Km for fructose 6-phosphate (9.6 μM), and it accepts both ADP and acetyl-phosphate as phosphoryl donors. Phylogenetic analysis of the ADP-PFK reveals it to be a key enzyme of the modified Embden-Meyerhof pathway of heterotrophic and chemolithoautotrophic archaea. Interestingly, uncharacterized homologs of this unusual kinase are present in several eucarya.
doi:10.1128/JB.183.24.7145-7153.2001
PMCID: PMC95563  PMID: 11717273
12.  Purification and Characterization of the Alanine Aminotransferase from the Hyperthermophilic Archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus and Its Role in Alanine Production 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(9):2559-2566.
Alanine aminotransferase (AlaAT) was purified from cell extracts of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus by multistep chromatography. The enzyme has an apparent molecular mass of 93.5 kDa, as estimated by gel filtration, and consists of two identical subunits of 46 kDa, as deduced by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and the gene sequence. The AlaAT displayed a broader substrate specificity than AlaATs from eukaryal sources and exhibited significant activity with alanine, glutamate, and aspartate with either 2-oxoglutarate or pyruvate as the amino acceptor. Optimal activity was found in the pH range of 6.5 to 7.8 and at a temperature of over 95°C. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of the purified AlaAT was determined and enabled the identification of the gene encoding AlaAT (aat) in the P. furiosus genome database. The gene was expressed in Escherichia coli, and the recombinant enzyme was purified. The pH and temperature dependence, molecular mass, and kinetic parameters of the recombinant were indistinguishable from those of the native enzyme from P. furiosus. The kcat/Km values for alanine and pyruvate formation were 41 and 33 s−1 mM−1, respectively, suggesting that the enzyme is not biased toward either the formation of pyruvate, or alanine. Northern analysis identified a single 1.2-kb transcript for the aat gene. In addition, both the aat and gdh (encoding the glutamate dehydrogenase) transcripts appear to be coregulated at the transcriptional level, because the expression of both genes was induced when the cells were grown on pyruvate. The coordinated control found for the aat and gdh genes is in good agreement with these enzymes acting in a concerted manner to form an electron sink in P. furiosus.
PMCID: PMC111321  PMID: 10762259
13.  Purification and Characterization of (Per)Chlorate Reductase from the Chlorate-Respiring Strain GR-1 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(21):6706-6711.
Strain GR-1 is one of several recently isolated bacterial species that are able to respire by using chlorate or perchlorate as the terminal electron acceptor. The organism performs a complete reduction of chlorate or perchlorate to chloride and oxygen, with the intermediate formation of chlorite. This study describes the purification and characterization of the key enzyme of the reductive pathway, the chlorate and perchlorate reductase. A single enzyme was found to catalyze both the chlorate- and perchlorate-reducing activity. The oxygen-sensitive enzyme was located in the periplasm and had an apparent molecular mass of 420 kDa, with subunits of 95 and 40 kDa in an α3β3 composition. Metal analysis showed the presence of 11 mol of iron, 1 mol of molybdenum, and 1 mol of selenium per mol of heterodimer. In accordance, quantitative electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy showed the presence of one [3Fe-4S] cluster and two [4Fe-4S] clusters. Furthermore, two different signals were ascribed to Mo(V). The Kmvalues for perchlorate and chlorate were 27 and <5 μM, respectively. Besides perchlorate and chlorate, nitrate, iodate, and bromate were also reduced at considerable rates. The resemblance of the enzyme to nitrate reductases, formate dehydrogenases, and selenate reductase is discussed.
PMCID: PMC94135  PMID: 10542172
14.  Reductive Dechlorination of Tetrachloroethene to cis-1,2-Dichloroethene by a Thermophilic Anaerobic Enrichment Culture 
Thermophilic anaerobic biodegradation of tetrachloroethene (PCE) was investigated with various inocula from geothermal and nongeothermal areas. Only polluted harbor sediment resulted in a stable enrichment culture that converted PCE via trichloroethene to cis-1,2-dichloroethene at the optimum temperature of 60 to 65°C. After several transfers, methanogens were eliminated from the culture. Dechlorination was supported by lactate, pyruvate, fructose, fumarate, and malate as electron donor but not by H2, formate, or acetate. Fumarate and l-malate led to the highest dechlorination rate. In the absence of PCE, fumarate was fermented to acetate, H2, CO2, and succinate. With PCE, less H2 was formed, suggesting that PCE competed for the reducing equivalents leading to H2. PCE dechlorination, apparently, was not outcompeted by fumarate as electron acceptor. At the optimum dissolved PCE concentration of ∼60 μM, a high dechlorination rate of 1.1 μmol h−1 mg−1 (dry weight) was found, which indicates that the dechlorination is not a cometabolic activity. Microscopic analysis of the fumarate-grown culture showed the dominance of a long thin rod. Molecular analysis, however, indicated the presence of two dominant species, both belonging to the low-G+C gram positives. The highest similarity was found with the genus Dehalobacter (90%), represented by the halorespiring organism Dehalobacter restrictus, and with the genus Desulfotomaculum (86%).
PMCID: PMC91342  PMID: 10347007

Results 1-14 (14)