Study of an alternate glyoxylate cycle for acetate assimilation by Rhodobacter sphaeroides


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Organisms, which grow on organic substrates that are metabolized via acetyl-CoA, are faced with the problem to form all cell constituents from this C2-unit. The problem was solved by the seminal work of Kornberg and is known as the glyoxylate cycle. However, many bacteria are known to not contain isocitrate lyase, the key enzyme of this pathway. This problem was addressed in acetate-grown Rhodobacter sphaeroides. An acetate-minus mutant identified by transposon mutagenesis was affected in the gene for β-ketothiolase forming acetoacetyl-CoA from two molecules of acetyl-CoA. This enzyme activity was missing in this mutant, which grew on acetoacetate and on acetate plus glyoxylate. A second acetate/acetoacetate-minus mutant was affected in the gene for a putative mesaconyl-CoA hydratase, an enzyme which catalyses the hydration of mesaconyl-CoA to β-methylmalyl-CoA. β-Methylmalyl-CoA is further cleaved into glyoxylate and propionyl-CoA. These results as well as identification of acetate-upregulated proteins by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis lead to the proposal of a new pathway for acetate assimilation. In a first part, affected by the mutations, two molecules of acetyl-CoA and one molecule CO2 are converted via acetoacetyl-CoA and mesaconyl-CoA to glyoxylate and propionyl-CoA. In a second part glyoxylate and propionyl-CoA are converted with another molecule of acetyl-CoA and CO2 to l-malyl-CoA and succinyl-CoA.