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author:("hemi, higashi")
1.  A highly selective biosynthetic pathway to non-natural C50 carotenoids assembled from moderately selective enzymes 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7534.
Synthetic biology aspires to construct natural and non-natural pathways to useful compounds. However, pathways that rely on multiple promiscuous enzymes may branch, which might preclude selective production of the target compound. Here, we describe the assembly of a six-enzyme pathway in Escherichia coli for the synthesis of C50-astaxanthin, a non-natural purple carotenoid. We show that by judicious matching of engineered size-selectivity variants of the first two enzymes in the pathway, farnesyl diphosphate synthase (FDS) and carotenoid synthase (CrtM), branching and the production of non-target compounds can be suppressed, enriching the proportion of C50 backbones produced. We then further extend the C50 pathway using evolved or wild-type downstream enzymes. Despite not containing any substrate- or product-specific enzymes, the resulting pathway detectably produces only C50 carotenoids, including ∼90% C50-astaxanthin. Using this approach, highly selective pathways can be engineered without developing absolutely specific enzymes.
Synthetic engineering of complex pathways is often hindered by pathway branching and generation of non-target compounds. Here, the authors show that by judicious combination of moderately selective enzyme variants, a non-natural C50 carotenoid can be generated in bacteria with minimal production of unwanted compounds.
PMCID: PMC4510654  PMID: 26168783
2.  Geranylgeranyl Reductase and Ferredoxin from Methanosarcina acetivorans Are Required for the Synthesis of Fully Reduced Archaeal Membrane Lipid in Escherichia coli Cells 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(2):417-423.
Archaea produce membrane lipids that typically possess fully saturated isoprenoid hydrocarbon chains attached to the glycerol moiety via ether bonds. They are functionally similar to, but structurally and biosynthetically distinct from, the fatty acid-based membrane lipids of bacteria and eukaryotes. It is believed that the characteristic lipid structure helps archaea survive under severe conditions such as extremely low or high pH, high salt concentrations, and/or high temperatures. We detail here the first successful production of an intact archaeal membrane lipid, which has fully saturated isoprenoid chains, in bacterial cells. The introduction of six phospholipid biosynthetic genes from a methanogenic archaeon, Methanosarcina acetivorans, in Escherichia coli enabled the host bacterium to synthesize the archaeal lipid, i.e., diphytanylglyceryl phosphoglycerol, while a glycerol modification of the phosphate group was probably catalyzed by endogenous E. coli enzymes. Reduction of the isoprenoid chains occurred only when archaeal ferredoxin was expressed with geranylgeranyl reductase, suggesting the role of ferredoxin as a specific electron donor for the reductase. This report is the first identification of a physiological reducer for archaeal geranylgeranyl reductase. On the other hand, geranylgeranyl reductase from the thermoacidophilic archaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius could, by itself, replace both its orthologue and ferredoxin from M. acetivorans, which indicated that an endogenous redox system of E. coli reduced the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3911245  PMID: 24214941
3.  Conserved Pyridoxal Protein That Regulates Ile and Val Metabolism 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(24):5439-5449.
Escherichia coli YggS is a member of the highly conserved uncharacterized protein family that binds pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP). To assist with the functional assignment of the YggS family, in vivo and in vitro analyses were performed using a yggS-deficient E. coli strain (ΔyggS) and a purified form of YggS, respectively. In the stationary phase, the ΔyggS strain exhibited a completely different intracellular pool of amino acids and produced a significant amount of l-Val in the culture medium. The log-phase ΔyggS strain accumulated 2-ketobutyrate, its aminated compound 2-aminobutyrate, and, to a lesser extent, l-Val. It also exhibited a 1.3- to 2.6-fold increase in the levels of Ile and Val metabolic enzymes. The fact that similar phenotypes were induced in wild-type E. coli by the exogenous addition of 2-ketobutyrate and 2-aminobutyrate indicates that the 2 compounds contribute to the ΔyggS phenotypes. We showed that the initial cause of the keto acid imbalance was the reduced availability of coenzyme A (CoA); supplementation with pantothenate, which is a CoA precursor, fully reversed phenotypes conferred by the yggS mutation. The plasmid-borne expression of YggS and orthologs from Bacillus subtilis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and humans fully rescued the ΔyggS phenotypes. Expression of a mutant YggS lacking PLP-binding ability, however, did not reverse the ΔyggS phenotypes. These results demonstrate for the first time that YggS controls Ile and Val metabolism by modulating 2-ketobutyrate and CoA availability. Its function depends on PLP, and it is highly conserved in a wide range species, from bacteria to humans.
PMCID: PMC3889608  PMID: 24097949
4.  Structural and Kinetic Evidence for an Extended Hydrogen-bonding Network in Catalysis of Methyl Group Transfer 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2006;282(9):6609-6618.
The methyltetrahydrofolate (CH3-H4folate) corrinoid-iron-sulfur protein (CFeSP) methyltransferase (MeTr) catalyzes transfer of the methyl group of CH3-H4folate to cob(I)amide. This key step in anaerobic CO and CO2 fixation is similar to the first half-reaction in the mechanisms of other cobalamin-dependent methyltransferases. Methyl transfer requires electrophilic activation of the methyl group of CH3-H4folate, which includes proton transfer to the N5 group of the pterin ring and poises the methyl group for reaction with the Co(I) nucleophile. The structure of the binary CH3-H4folate/MeTr complex (revealed here) lacks any obvious proton donor near the N5 group. Instead, an Asn residue and water molecules are found within H-bonding distance of N5. Structural and kinetic experiments described here are consistent with the involvement of an extended H-bonding network in proton transfer to N5 of the folate that includes an Asn (Asn-199 in MeTr), a conserved Asp (Asp-160), and a water molecule. This situation is reminiscent of purine nucleoside phosphorylase, which involves protonation of the purine N7 in the transition state and is accomplished by an extended H-bond network that includes water molecules, a Glu residue, and an Asn residue. In MeTr, the Asn residue swings from a distant position to within H-bonding distance of the N5 atom upon CH3-H4folate binding. An N199A variant exhibits only ~20-fold weakened affinity for CH3-H4folate but a much more marked 20,000–40,000-fold effect on catalysis, suggesting that Asn-199 plays an important role in stabilizing a transition state or high energy intermediate for methyl transfer.
PMCID: PMC3966722  PMID: 17172470
5.  Substrate-Induced Change in the Quaternary Structure of Type 2 Isopentenyl Diphosphate Isomerase from Sulfolobus shibatae 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(12):3216-3224.
Type 2 isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase catalyzes the interconversion between two active units for isoprenoid biosynthesis, i.e., isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate, in almost all archaea and in some bacteria, including human pathogens. The enzyme is a good target for discovery of antibiotics because it is essential for the organisms that use only the mevalonate pathway to produce the active isoprene units and because humans possess a nonhomologous isozyme, type 1 isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase. However, type 2 enzymes were reportedly inhibited by mechanism-based drugs for the type 1 enzyme due to their surprisingly similar reaction mechanisms. Thus, a different approach is now required to develop new inhibitors specific to the type 2 enzyme. X-ray crystallography and gel filtration chromatography revealed that the enzyme from a thermoacidophilic archaeon, Sulfolobus shibatae, is in the octameric state at a high concentration. Interestingly, a part of the regions that are involved in the substrate binding in the previously reported tetrameric structures is integral to the formation of the tetramer-tetramer interface in the substrate-free octameric structure. Site-directed mutagenesis at such regions resulted in stabilization of the tetramer. Small-angle X-ray scattering, tryptophan fluorescence, and dynamic light scattering analyses showed that substrate binding causes the dissociation of an octamer into tetramers. This property, i.e., incompatibility between octamer formation and substrate binding, might provide clues to develop new specific inhibitors of the archaeal enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3370841  PMID: 22505674
6.  Archaeal Phospholipid Biosynthetic Pathway Reconstructed in Escherichia coli 
Archaea  2012;2012:438931.
A part of the biosynthetic pathway of archaeal membrane lipids, comprised of 4 archaeal enzymes, was reconstructed in the cells of Escherichia coli. The genes of the enzymes were cloned from a mesophilic methanogen, Methanosarcina acetivorans, and the activity of each enzyme was confirmed using recombinant proteins. In vitro radioassay showed that the 4 enzymes are sufficient to synthesize an intermediate of archaeal membrane lipid biosynthesis, that is, 2,3-di-O-geranylgeranyl-sn-glycerol-1-phosphate, from precursors that can be produced endogenously in E. coli. Introduction of the 4 genes into E. coli resulted in the production of archaeal-type lipids. Detailed liquid chromatography/electron spray ionization-mass spectrometry analyses showed that they are metabolites from the expected intermediate, that is, 2,3-di-O-geranylgeranyl-sn-glycerol and 2,3-di-O-geranylgeranyl-sn-glycerol-1-phosphoglycerol. The metabolic processes, that is, dephosphorylation and glycerol modification, are likely catalyzed by endogenous enzymes of E. coli.
PMCID: PMC3357500  PMID: 22645416
7.  Specific Partial Reduction of Geranylgeranyl Diphosphate by an Enzyme from the Thermoacidophilic Archaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius Yields a Reactive Prenyl Donor, Not a Dead-End Product ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(11):3923-3929.
Geranylgeranyl reductase from Sulfolobus acidocaldarius was shown to catalyze the reduction of geranylgeranyl groups in the precursors of archaeal membrane lipids, generally reducing all four double bonds. However, when geranylgeranyl diphosphate was subjected to the reductase reaction, only three of the four double bonds were reduced. Mass spectrometry and acid hydrolysis indicated that the allylic double bond was preserved in the partially reduced product derived from geranylgeranyl diphosphate. Thus, the reaction product was shown to be phytyl diphosphate, which is a substrate for archaeal prenyltransferases, unlike the completely reduced compound phytanyl diphosphate.
PMCID: PMC2395040  PMID: 18375567
8.  Total Synthesis of Geranylgeranylglyceryl Phosphate Enantiomers: Substrates for Characterization of 2,3-O-Digeranylgeranylglyceryl Phosphate Synthase 
Organic letters  2006;8(5):943-946.
In order to determine the enantioselectivity of (S)-2,3-di-O-geranylgeranylglyceryl phosphate synthase (DGGGPS) from the thermoacidophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus, we developed an efficient enantioselective route to the enantiomeric geranylgeranylglyceryl phosphates (R)-GGGP and (S)-GGGP. Previous routes to these substrates involved enzymatic conversions, due to the lability of the polyprenyl chains towards common phosphorylation reaction conditions. The synthesis described herein employs a mild trimethyl phosphite/carbon tetrabromide oxidative phosphorylation to circumvent this problem. In contrast to previous results suggesting that only (S)-GGGP can act as the prenyl-acceptor substrate, both (R)-GGGP and (S)-GGGP were found to be substrates for DGGGPS.
PMCID: PMC2543118  PMID: 16494480
9.  A Novel Lipolytic Enzyme, YcsK (LipC), Located in the Spore Coat of Bacillus subtilis, Is Involved in Spore Germination▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(6):2369-2375.
The predicted amino acid sequence of Bacillus subtilis ycsK exhibits similarity to the GDSL family of lipolytic enzymes. Northern blot analysis showed that ycsK mRNA was first detected from 4 h after the onset of sporulation and that transcription of ycsK was dependent on SigK and GerE. The fluorescence of the YcsK-green fluorescent protein fusion protein produced in sporulating cells was detectable in the mother cell but not in the forespore compartment under fluorescence microscopy, and the fusion protein was localized around the developing spores dependent on CotE, SafA, and SpoVID. Inactivation of the ycsK gene by insertion of an erythromycin resistance gene did not affect vegetative growth or spore resistance to heat, lysozyme, or chloroform. The germination of ycsK spores in a mixture of l-asparagine, d-glucose, d-fructose, and potassium chloride and LB medium was also the same as that of wild-type spores, but the mutant spores were defective in l-alanine-stimulated germination. In addition, zymogram analysis demonstrated that the YcsK protein heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli showed lipolytic activity. We therefore propose that ycsK should be renamed lipC. This is the first study of a bacterial spore germination-related lipase.
PMCID: PMC1899377  PMID: 17220230
10.  Menaquinone-Specific Prenyl Reductase from the Hyperthermophilic Archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(6):1937-1944.
Four genes that encode the homologues of plant geranylgeranyl reductase were isolated from a hyperthermophilic archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus, which produces menaquinone with a fully saturated heptaprenyl side chain, menaquinone-7(14H). The recombinant expression of one of the homologues in Escherichia coli led to a distinct change in the quinone profile of the host cells, although the homologue is the most distantly related to the geranylgeranyl reductase. The new compounds found in the profile had successively longer elution times than those of ordinary quinones from E. coli, i.e., menaquinone-8 and ubiquinone-8, in high-performance liquid chromatography on a reversed-phase column. Structural analyses of the new compounds by electron impact-mass spectrometry indicated that their molecular masses progressively increase relative to the ordinary quinones at a rate of 2 U but that they still contain quinone head structures, strongly suggesting that the compounds are quinones with partially saturated prenyl side chains. In vitro assays with dithionite as the reducing agent showed that the prenyl reductase is highly specific for menaquinone-7, rather than ubiquinone-8 and prenyl diphosphates. This novel enzyme noncovalently binds flavin adenine dinucleotide, similar to geranylgeranyl reductase, but was not able to utilize NAD(P)H as the electron donor, unlike the plant homologue.
PMCID: PMC1064032  PMID: 15743940
11.  Collagenolytic Serine-Carboxyl Proteinase from Alicyclobacillus sendaiensis Strain NTAP-1: Purification, Characterization, Gene Cloning, and Heterologous Expression 
Enzymatic degradation of collagen produces peptides, the collagen peptides, which show a variety of bioactivities of industrial interest. Alicyclobacillus sendaiensis strain NTAP-1, a slightly thermophilic, acidophilic bacterium, extracellularly produces a novel thermostable collagenolytic activity, which exhibits its optimum at the acidic region (pH 3.9) and is potentially applicable to the efficient production of such peptides. Here, we describe the purification to homogeneity, characterization, gene cloning, and heterologous expression of this enzyme, which we call ScpA. Purified ScpA is a monomeric, pepstatin-insensitive carboxyl proteinase with a molecular mass of 37 kDa which exhibited the highest reactivity toward collagen (type I, from a bovine Achilles tendon) among the macromolecular substrates examined. On the basis of the sequences of the peptides obtained by digestion of collagen with ScpA, the following synthetic peptides were designed as substrates for ScpA and kinetically analyzed: Phe-Gly-Pro-Ala*Gly-Pro-Ile-Gly (kcat, 5.41 s−1; Km, 32 μM) and Met-Gly-Pro-Arg*Gly-Phe-Pro-Gly-Ser (kcat, 351 s−1; Km, 214 μM), where the asterisks denote the scissile bonds. The cloned scpA gene encoded a protein of 553 amino acids with a calculated molecular mass of 57,167 Da. Heterologous expression of the scpA gene in the Escherichia coli cells yielded a mature 37-kDa species after a two-step proteolytic cleavage of the precursor protein. Sequencing of the scpA gene revealed that ScpA was a collagenolytic member of the serine-carboxyl proteinase family (the S53 family according to the MEROPS database), which is a recently identified proteinase family on the basis of crystallography results. Unexpectedly, ScpA was highly similar to a member of this family, kumamolysin, whose specificity toward macromolecular substrates has not been defined.
PMCID: PMC152441  PMID: 12513991
12.  Novel Medium-Chain Prenyl Diphosphate Synthase from the Thermoacidophilic Archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(3):615-620.
Two open reading frames which encode the homologues of (all-E) prenyl diphosphate synthase are found in the whole-genome sequence of Sulfolobus solfataricus, a thermoacidophilic archaeon. It has been suggested that one is a geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase gene, but the specificity and biological significance of the enzyme encoded by the other have remained unclear. Thus, we isolated the latter by the PCR method, expressed the enzyme in Escherichia coli cells, purified it, and characterized it. The archaeal enzyme, 281 amino acids long, is highly thermostable and requires Mg2+ and Triton X-100 for full activity. It catalyzes consecutive E-type condensations of isopentenyl diphosphate with an allylic substrate such as geranylgeranyl diphosphate and yields the medium-chain product hexaprenyl diphosphate. Despite such product specificity, phylogenetic analysis revealed that the archaeal medium-chain prenyl diphosphate synthase is distantly related to the other medium- and long-chain enzymes but is closely related to eucaryal short-chain enzymes.
PMCID: PMC139513  PMID: 11790729
13.  Cloning, Expression, and Characterization of cis-Polyprenyl Diphosphate Synthase from the Thermoacidophilic Archaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(1):401-404.
cis-polyprenyl diphosphate synthases are involved in the biosynthesis of the glycosyl carrier lipid in most organisms. However, only little is known about this enzyme of archaea. In this report, we isolated the gene of cis-polyprenyl diphosphate synthase from a thermoacidophilic archaeon, Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, and characterized the recombinant enzyme.
PMCID: PMC94892  PMID: 11114943

Results 1-13 (13)