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Keywords:

  • Aspergillus fumigatus;
  • mannitol;
  • mannitol metabolism;
  • mannitol-1-phosphate 5-dehydrogenase;
  • mannitol 2-dehydrogenase

The human pathogenic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus accumulates large amounts of intracellular mannitol to enhance its resistance against defense strategies of the infected host. To explore their currently unknown roles in mannitol metabolism, we studied A. fumigatus mannitol-1-phosphate 5-dehydrogenase (AfM1PDH) and mannitol 2-dehydrogenase (AfM2DH), each recombinantly produced in Escherichia coli, and performed a detailed steady-state kinetic characterization of the two enzymes at 25 °C and pH 7.1. Primary kinetic isotope effects resulting from deuteration of alcohol substrate or NADH showed that, for AfM1PDH, binding of d-mannitol 1-phosphate and NAD+ is random, whereas d-fructose 6-phosphate binds only after NADH has bound to the enzyme. Binding of substrate and NAD(H) by AfM2DH is random for both d-mannitol oxidation and d-fructose reduction. Hydride transfer is rate-determining for d-mannitol 1-phosphate oxidation by AfM1PDH (kcat = 10.6 s−1) as well as d-fructose reduction by AfM2DH (kcat = 94 s−1). Product release steps control the maximum rates in the other direction of the two enzymatic reactions. Free energy profiles for the enzymatic reaction under physiological boundary conditions suggest that AfM1PDH primarily functions as a d-fructose-6-phosphate reductase, whereas AfM2DH acts in d-mannitol oxidation, thus establishing distinct routes for production and mobilization of mannitol in A. fumigatus. ATP, ADP and AMP do not affect the activity of AfM1PDH, suggesting the absence of flux control by cellular energy charge at the level of d-fructose 6-phosphate reduction. AfM1PDH is remarkably resistant to inactivation by heat (half-life at 40 °C of 20 h), consistent with the idea that formation of mannitol is an essential component of the temperature stress response of A. fumigatus. Inhibition of AfM1PDH might be a useful target for therapy of A. fumigatus infections.