Enzymology and Physiology of a New Type of Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylase and the Development of a Pyruvate Carboxylase Expression System

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Virginia Tech


Our laboratory is interested in studying the junction of glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, specifically the enzymes phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, pyruvate carboxylase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase. All produce oxaloacetate (OAA) for the cell. OAA production is critical for cell carbon synthesis in the methanogenic archaea. Therefore OAA-generating enzymes are essential for the survival of methanogens. In part of this study we investigated archaeal-type phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PpcA), a new type of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, which is widespread in the archaea and is found in three bacterial species. The form of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (Ppc) that is prevalent in bacteria and plants is not found in the archaea. Due to complications expressing PpcA in the soluble form and difficulty purifying this enzyme from methanogens, an in-depth investigation of this enzyme's biochemical properties has yet to occur. In this study we demonstrate the successful expression of a PpcA homolog in the soluble fraction of Escherichia coli. We purified the recombinant protein to homogeneity. This development provides the means to study the enzyme's biochemical properties and manipulate the primary sequence in order to identify residues critical to the enzyme's function. We also show that this PpcA homolog does have the postulated activity and investigate its biochemical properties. The data show that PpcA has unique properties in regard to the enzyme's substrate and its regulation by metabolites. Our data also reveal that PpcA is a membrane associated protein, unlike Ppc, which is a soluble protein. We also show that pyruvate carboxylase (Pyc) can be expressed recombinantly in Pseudomonas aeruginosa at levels sufficient for structure-function studies. This is a major step forward in the expression in Pyc because it cannot be expressed at high levels in Escherichia coli. These are important developments in studying the enzymes that connect glycolysis and the TCA cycle.



methanogens, pyruvate carboxylase, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, enzymology