4 years ago

Microbial pathway for anaerobic 5'-methylthioadenosine metabolism coupled to ethylene formation [Microbiology]

Microbial pathway for anaerobic 5'-methylthioadenosine metabolism coupled to ethylene formation [Microbiology]
F. Robert Tabita, Anthony R. Miller, Justin A. North, John A. Wildenthal, Sarah J. Young

Numerous cellular processes involving S-adenosyl-l-methionine result in the formation of the toxic by-product, 5′-methylthioadenosine (MTA). To prevent inhibitory MTA accumulation and retain biologically available sulfur, most organisms possess the “universal” methionine salvage pathway (MSP). However, the universal MSP is inherently aerobic due to a requirement of molecular oxygen for one of the key enzymes. Here, we report the presence of an exclusively anaerobic MSP that couples MTA metabolism to ethylene formation in the phototrophic bacteria Rhodospirillum rubrum and Rhodopseudomonas palustris. In vivo metabolite analysis of gene deletion strains demonstrated that this anaerobic MSP functions via sequential action of MTA phosphorylase (MtnP), 5-(methylthio)ribose-1-phosphate isomerase (MtnA), and an annotated class II aldolase-like protein (Ald2) to form 2-(methylthio)acetaldehyde as an intermediate. 2-(Methylthio)acetaldehyde is reduced to 2-(methylthio)ethanol, which is further metabolized as a usable organic sulfur source, generating stoichiometric amounts of ethylene in the process. Ethylene induction experiments using 2-(methylthio)ethanol versus sulfate as sulfur sources further indicate anaerobic ethylene production from 2-(methylthio)ethanol requires protein synthesis and that this process is regulated. Finally, phylogenetic analysis reveals that the genes corresponding to these enzymes, and presumably the pathway, are widespread among anaerobic and facultatively anaerobic bacteria from soil and freshwater environments. These results not only establish the existence of a functional, exclusively anaerobic MSP, but they also suggest a possible route by which ethylene is produced by microbes in anoxic environments.

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