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1.  Lipid Biology of Archaea 
Archaea  2012;2012:710836.
PMCID: PMC3533482  PMID: 23304073
2.  Thermal Adaptation of the Archaeal and Bacterial Lipid Membranes 
Archaea  2012;2012:789652.
The physiological characteristics that distinguish archaeal and bacterial lipids, as well as those that define thermophilic lipids, are discussed from three points of view that (1) the role of the chemical stability of lipids in the heat tolerance of thermophilic organisms: (2) the relevance of the increase in the proportion of certain lipids as the growth temperature increases: (3) the lipid bilayer membrane properties that enable membranes to function at high temperatures. It is concluded that no single, chemically stable lipid by itself was responsible for the adaptation of surviving at high temperatures. Lipid membranes that function effectively require the two properties of a high permeability barrier and a liquid crystalline state. Archaeal membranes realize these two properties throughout the whole biological temperature range by means of their isoprenoid chains. Bacterial membranes meet these requirements only at or just above the phase-transition temperature, and therefore their fatty acid composition must be elaborately regulated. A recent hypothesis sketched a scenario of the evolution of lipids in which the “lipid divide” emerged concomitantly with the differentiation of archaea and bacteria. The two modes of thermal adaptation were established concurrently with the “lipid divide.”
PMCID: PMC3426160  PMID: 22927779
3.  Biosynthesis of Ether-Type Polar Lipids in Archaea and Evolutionary Considerations 
This review deals with the in vitro biosynthesis of the characteristics of polar lipids in archaea along with preceding in vivo studies. Isoprenoid chains are synthesized through the classical mevalonate pathway, as in eucarya, with minor modifications in some archaeal species. Most enzymes involved in the pathway have been identified enzymatically and/or genomically. Three of the relevant enzymes are found in enzyme families different from the known enzymes. The order of reactions in the phospholipid synthesis pathway (glycerophosphate backbone formation, linking of glycerophosphate with two radyl chains, activation by CDP, and attachment of common polar head groups) is analogous to that of bacteria. sn-Glycerol-1-phosphate dehydrogenase is responsible for the formation of the sn-glycerol-1-phosphate backbone of phospholipids in all archaea. After the formation of two ether bonds, CDP-archaeol acts as a common precursor of various archaeal phospholipid syntheses. Various phospholipid-synthesizing enzymes from archaea and bacteria belong to the same large CDP-alcohol phosphatidyltransferase family. In short, the first halves of the phospholipid synthesis pathways play a role in synthesis of the characteristic structures of archaeal and bacterial phospholipids, respectively. In the second halves of the pathways, the polar head group-attaching reactions and enzymes are homologous in both domains. These are regarded as revealing the hybrid nature of phospholipid biosynthesis. Precells proposed by Wächtershäuser are differentiated into archaea and bacteria by spontaneous segregation of enantiomeric phospholipid membranes (with sn-glycerol-1-phosphate and sn-glycerol-3-phosphate backbones) and the fusion and fission of precells. Considering the nature of the phospholipid synthesis pathways, we here propose that common phospholipid polar head groups were present in precells before the differentiation into archaea and bacteria.
PMCID: PMC1847378  PMID: 17347520
4.  In Vitro Biosynthesis of Ether-Type Glycolipids in the Methanoarchaeon Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(11):4053-4061.
The biosynthesis of archaeal ether-type glycolipids was investigated in vitro using Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus cell-free homogenates. The sole sugar moiety of glycolipids and phosphoglycolipids of the organism is the β-d-glucosyl-(1→6)-d-glucosyl (gentiobiosyl) unit. The enzyme activities of archaeol:UDP-glucose β-glucosyltransferase (monoglucosylarchaeol [MGA] synthase) and MGA:UDP-glucose β-1,6-glucosyltransferase (diglucosylarchaeol [DGA] synthase) were found in the methanoarchaeon. The synthesis of DGA is probably a two-step glucosylation: (i) archaeol + UDP-glucose → MGA + UDP, and (ii) MGA + UDP-glucose → DGA + UDP. Both enzymes required the addition of K+ ions and archaetidylinositol for their activities. DGA synthase was stimulated by 10 mM MgCl2, in contrast to MGA synthase, which did not require Mg2+. It was likely that the activities of MGA synthesis and DGA synthesis were carried out by different proteins because of the Mg2+ requirement and their cellular localization. MGA synthase and DGA synthase can be distinguished in cell extracts greatly enriched for each activity by demonstrating the differing Mg2+ requirements of each enzyme. MGA synthase preferred a lipid substrate with the sn-2,3 stereostructure of the glycerol backbone on which two saturated isoprenoid chains are bound at the sn-2 and sn-3 positions. A lipid substrate with unsaturated isoprenoid chains or sn-1,2-dialkylglycerol configuration exhibited low activity. Tetraether-type caldarchaetidylinositol was also actively glucosylated by the homogenates to form monoglucosyl caldarchaetidylinositol and a small amount of diglucosyl caldarchaetidylinositol. The addition of Mg2+ increased the formation of diglucosyl caldarchaetidylinositol. This suggested that the same enzyme set synthesized the sole sugar moiety of diether-type glycolipids and tetraether-type phosphoglycolipids.
PMCID: PMC1913393  PMID: 17416653
5.  A study of archaeal enzymes involved in polar lipid synthesis linking amino acid sequence information, genomic contexts and lipid composition 
Archaea  2005;1(6):399-410.
Cellular membrane lipids, of which phospholipids are the major constituents, form one of the characteristic features that distinguish Archaea from other organisms. In this study, we focused on the steps in archaeal phospholipid synthetic pathways that generate polar lipids such as archaetidylserine, archaetidylglycerol, and archaetidylinositol. Only archaetidylserine synthase (ASS), from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus,has been experimentally identified. Other enzymes have not been fully examined. Through database searching, we detected many archaeal hypothetical proteins that show sequence similarity to members of the CDP alcohol phosphatidyltransferase family, such as phosphatidylserine synthase (PSS), phosphatidylglycerol synthase (PGS) and phosphatidylinositol synthase (PIS) derived from Bacteria and Eukarya. The archaeal hypothetical proteins were classified into two groups, based on the sequence similarity. Members of the first group, including ASS from M. thermautotrophicus, were closely related to PSS. The rough agreement between PSS homologue distribution within Archaea and the experimentally identified distribution of archaetidylserine suggested that the hypothetical proteins are ASSs. We found that an open reading frame (ORF) tends to be adjacent to that of ASS in the genome, and that the order of the two ORFs is conserved. The sequence similarity of phosphatidylserine decarboxylase to the product of the ORF next to the ASS gene, together with the genomic context conservation, suggests that the ORF encodes archaetidylserine decarboxylase, which may transform archaetidylserine to archaetidylethanolamine. The second group of archaeal hypothetical proteins was related to PGS and PIS. The members of this group were subjected to molecular phylogenetic analysis, together with PGSs and PISs and it was found that they formed two distinct clusters in the molecular phylogenetic tree. The distribution of members of each cluster within Archaea roughly corresponded to the experimentally identified distribution of archaetidylglycerol or archaetidylinositol. The molecular phylogenetic tree patterns and the correspondence to the membrane compositions suggest that the two clusters in this group correspond to archaetidylglycerol synthases and archaetidylinositol synthases. No archaeal hypothetical protein with sequence similarity to known phosphatidylcholine synthases was detected in this study.
PMCID: PMC2685579  PMID: 16243780
archaetidylcholine; archaetidylglycerol; archaetidylinositol; archaetidylserine; genomic context; phylogenetic tree
6.  CDP-2,3-Di-O-Geranylgeranyl-sn-Glycerol:l-Serine O-Archaetidyltransferase (Archaetidylserine Synthase) in the Methanogenic Archaeon Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(4):1181-1189.
CDP-2,3-di-O-geranylgeranyl-sn-glycerol:l-serine O-archaetidyltransferase (archaetidylserine synthase) activity in cell extracts of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus cells was characterized. The enzyme catalyzed the formation of unsaturated archaetidylserine from CDP-unsaturated archaeol and l-serine. The identity of the reaction products was confirmed by thin-layer chromatography, fast atom bombardment-mass spectrum analysis, and chemical degradation. The enzyme showed maximal activity in the presence of 10 mM Mn2+ and 1% Triton X-100. Among various synthetic substrate analogs, both enantiomers of CDP-unsaturated archaeols with ether-linked geranylgeranyl chains and CDP-saturated archaeol with ether-linked phytanyl chains were similarly active toward the archaetidylserine synthase. The activity on the ester analog of the substrate was two to three times higher than that on the corresponding ether-type substrate. The activity of d-serine with the enzyme was 30% of that observed for l-serine. A trace amount of an acid-labile, unsaturated archaetidylserine intermediate was detected in the cells by a pulse-labeling experiment. A gene (MT1027) in M. thermautotrophicus genome annotated as the gene encoding phosphatidylserine synthase was found to be homologous to Bacillus subtilis pssA but not to Escherichia coli pssA. The substrate specificity of phosphatidylserine synthase from B. subtilis was quite similar to that observed for the M. thermautotrophicus archaetidylserine synthase, while the E. coli enzyme had a strong preference for CDP-1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol. It was concluded that M. thermautotrophicus archaetidylserine synthase belongs to subclass II phosphatidylserine synthase (B. subtilis type) on the basis of not only homology but also substrate specificity and some enzymatic properties. The possibility that a gene encoding the subclass II phosphatidylserine synthase might be transferred from a bacterium to an ancestor of methanogens is discussed.
PMCID: PMC142863  PMID: 12562787
7.  Structural analysis by reductive cleavage with LiAlH4 of an allyl ether choline-phospholipid, archaetidylcholine, from the hyperthermophilic methanoarchaeon Methanopyrus kandleri  
Archaea  2002;1(2):123-131.
A choline-containing phospholipid (PL-4) in Methanopyrus kandleri cells was identified as archaetidylcholine, which has been described by Sprott et al. (1997). The PL-4 consisted of a variety of molecular species differing in hydrocarbon composition. Most of the PL-4 was acid-labile because of its allyl ether bond. The identity of PL-4 was confirmed by thin-layer chromatography (TLC) followed by positive staining with Dragendorff-reagent and fast-atom bombardment–mass spectrometry. A new method of LiAlH4 hydrogenolysis was developed to cleave allyl ether bonds and recover the corresponding hydrocarbons. We confirmed the validity of the LiAlH4 method in a study of the model compound synthetic unsaturated archaetidic acid (2,3-di-O-geranylgeranyl-sn-glycerol-1-phosphate). Saturated ether bonds were not cleaved by the LiAlH4 method. The hydrocarbons formed following LiAlH4 hydrogenolysis of PL-4 were identified by gas–liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Four kinds of hydrocarbons with one to four double bonds were detected: 47% of the hydrocarbons had four double bonds; 11% had three double bonds; 14% had two double bonds; 7% had one double bond; and 6% were saturated species. The molecular species composition of PL-4 was also estimated based on acid lability: 77% of the molecular species had two acid-labile hydrocarbons; 11% had one acid-labile and one acid-stable hydrocarbon; and 11% had two acid-stable hydrocarbons. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a specific chemical degradation method for the structural analysis of allyl ether phospholipid in archaea.
PMCID: PMC2685562  PMID: 15803650
acid-labile phospholipid; LiAlH4 hydrogenolysis; molecular species composition; unsaturated isoprenoid
8.  sn-Glycerol-1-Phosphate-Forming Activities in Archaea: Separation of Archaeal Phospholipid Biosynthesis and Glycerol Catabolism by Glycerophosphate Enantiomers 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(4):1330-1333.
In Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum, sn-glycerol-1-phosphate (G-1-P) dehydrogenase is responsible for the formation of the Archaea-specific backbone of phospholipids, G-1-P, from dihydroxyacetonephosphate (DHAP). The possible G-1-P-forming activities were surveyed in cell-free extracts of six species of Archaea. All the archaeal cell-free homogenates tested revealed the ability to form G-1-P from DHAP. In addition, activities of G-3-P-forming glycerol kinase and G-3-P dehydrogenase were also detected in four heterotrophic archaea, while glycerol kinase activity was not detected in two autotrophic methanogens. These results show that G-1-P is produced from DHAP by G-1-P dehydrogenase in a wide variety of archaea while exogenous glycerol is catabolized via G-3-P.
PMCID: PMC93513  PMID: 9973362
9.  A Novel DNA Polymerase Family Found in Archaea 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(8):2232-2236.
One of the most puzzling results from the complete genome sequence of the methanogenic archaeon Methanococcus jannaschii was that the organism may have only one DNA polymerase gene. This is because no other DNA polymerase-like open reading frames (ORFs) were found besides one ORF having the typical α-like DNA polymerase (family B). Recently, we identified the genes of DNA polymerase II (the second DNA polymerase) from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus, which has also at least one α-like DNA polymerase (T. Uemori, Y. Sato, I. Kato, H. Doi, and Y. Ishino, Genes Cells 2:499–512, 1997). The genes in M. jannaschii encoding the proteins that are homologous to the DNA polymerase II of P. furiosus have been located and cloned. The gene products of M. jannaschii expressed in Escherichia coli had both DNA polymerizing and 3′→5′ exonuclease activities. We propose here a novel DNA polymerase family which is entirely different from other hitherto-described DNA polymerases.
PMCID: PMC107154  PMID: 9555910

Results 1-9 (9)