Revisiting the glyoxylate cycle: alternate pathways for microbial acetate assimilation


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The glyoxylate cycle, identified by Kornberg et al. in 1957, provides a simple and efficient strategy for converting acetyl-CoA into anapleurotic and gluconeogenic compounds. Studies of a number of bacteria capable of growth with C2 compounds as the sole carbon source have revealed that they lack the key glyoxylate cycle enzyme isocitrate lyase, suggesting that alternative pathway(s) for acetate assimilation exist in these bacteria. Recent studies of acetate assimilation in methylotrophs and purple phototrophs have revealed remarkable and complex new pathways for assimilation of acetate in the absence of isocitrate lyase. The details of these new pathways are the subject of this MicroCommentary.