A novel isoform of pantothenate synthetase in the Archaea

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The linear biosynthetic pathway leading from α-ketoisovalerate to pantothenate (vitamin B5) and on to CoA comprises eight steps in the Bacteria and Eukaryota. Genes for up to six steps of this pathway can be identified by sequence homology in individual archaeal genomes. However, there are no archaeal homologs to known isoforms of pantothenate synthetase (PS) or pantothenate kinase. Using comparative genomics, we previously identified two conserved archaeal protein families as the best candidates for the missing steps. Here we report the characterization of the predicted PS gene from Methanosarcina mazei, which encodes a hypothetical protein (MM2281) with no obvious homologs outside its own family. When expressed in Escherichia coli, MM2281 partially complemented an auxotrophic mutant without PS activity. Purified recombinant MM2281 showed no PS activity on its own, but the enzyme enabled substantial synthesis of [14C]4′-phosphopantothenate from [14C]β-alanine, pantoate and ATP when coupled with E. coli pantothenate kinase. ADP, but not AMP, was detected as a coproduct of the coupled reaction. MM2281 also transferred the 14C-label from [14C]β-alanine to pantothenate in the presence of pantoate and ADP, presumably through isotope exchange. No exchange took place when pantoate was removed or ADP replaced with AMP. Our results indicate that MM2281 represents a novel type of PS that forms ADP and is strongly inhibited by its product pantothenate. These properties differ substantially from those of bacterial PS, and may explain why PS genes, in contrast to other pantothenate biosynthetic genes, were not exchanged horizontally between the Bacteria and Archaea.

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