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Discovery and Biochemical Characterization of the UDP-Xylose Biosynthesis Pathway in Sphaerobacter thermophilus

[ Vol. 23 , Issue. 12 ]


Bin Gu, Pedro Laborda, Shuang Wei, Xu-Chu Duan, Hui-Bo Song, Li Liu and Josef Voglmeir   Pages 1103 - 1110 ( 8 )


The biosynthesis of UDP-xylose requires the stepwise oxidation/ decarboxylation of UDP-glucose, which is catalyzed by the enzymes UDPglucuronic acid dehydrogenase (UGD) and UDP-xylose synthase (UXS). UDPxylose biosynthesis is ubiquitous in animals and plants. However, only a few UGD and UXS isoforms of bacterial origin have thus far been biochemically characterized. Sphaerobacter thermophilus DSM 20745 is a bacterium isolated from heated sewage sludge, and therefore can be a valuable source of thermostable enzymes of biotechnological interest. However, no biochemical characterizations of any S. thermophilus enzymes have yet been reported. Herein, we describe the cloning and characterization of putative UGD (StUGD) and UXS (StUXS) isoforms from this organism. HPLC- and plate reader-based activity tests of the recombinantly expressed StUGD and StUXS showed that they are indeed active enzymes. Both StUGD and StUXS showed a temperature optimum of 70°C, and a reasonable thermal stability up to 60°C. No metal ions were required for enzymatic activities. StUGD had a higher pH optimum than StUXS. The simple purification procedures and the thermotolerance of StUGD and StUXS make them valuable biocatalysts for the synthesis of UDP-glucuronic acid and UDP-xylose at elevated temperatures. The biosynthetic potential of StUGD was further exemplified in a coupled enzymatic reaction with an UDP-glucuronosyltransferase, allowing the glucuronylation of the natural model substrate bilirubin.


Sphaerobacter thermophilus, UDP-glucuronic acid, UDP-xylose, UDP-glucose dehydrogenase, UDP-xylose synthase, bilirubin glucuronylation.


Glycomics and Glycan Bioengineering Research Center (GGBRC), College of Food Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, People’s Republic of China.

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