The production of 2H-labeled amino acids by a new mutant of RuMP fucultative methylotroph Вrevibacte...

For our studies we have used a new non-traditional producer of phenylalanine: a leucine auxotroph of the facultative methylotrophic bacterium

The production of 2H-labeled amino acids by a new mutant of RuMP fucultative methylotroph Вrevibacte...


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The production of 2H-labeled amino acids by a new mutant of RuMP fucultative methylotroph Вrevibacterium methylicum


Oleg V. Mosin1


1 Department of Biotechnology, M. V. Lomonosov State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology, Vernadskogo Prospekt 86, 117571, Moscow, Russia



The biosynthesis of 2H-labeled phenylalanine was done by converse of low molecular weight substrates ([U- 2H]methanol and 2H2O) in a new RuMP facultative methylotrophic mutant Brevibacterium methylicum. To make the process work, adapted cells with improved growth characteristics were used on minimal medium M9 with the maximum content of 2H-labeled substrates. Alanine, valine, and leucine/isoleucine were produced and accumulated exogeneously in addition to the main product of biosynthesis. Electron impact mass spectrometry of methyl esters of the N-Dns-amino acid mixture obtained after the chemical derivatization of growth medium with dansyl chloride and diazomethane, was done to calculate the deuterium enrichment of the amino acids synthesized. The experimental data testified to the character of labeling of amino acid molecules as heterogeneous; however, high levels of deuterium enrichment were detected in all presented molecules - for phenylalanine the enrichment was six, leucine/isoleucine - 5.1, valine - 4.7, and alanine - 3.1 deuterium atoms.



Keywords: Brevibacterium methylicum - Heavy water - Biosynthesis - 2H-Labeled amino acids - Phenylalanine - EIMS

Abbreviations: EI MS: electron impact mass spectrometry; TLC: thin layer chromatography; DNSCl: dansylchloride; DZM: diazomethane; N-NMU: N-nitroso-methylurea; RuMP: rybolose monophosphate; PenP: pentose phosphate; PEP: phosphoenolpyruvate; ERP: erythrose-4-phosphate.










Labeling of amino acid molecules with deuterium is becoming an essential part for various biochemical studies with 2H-labeled molecules and investigation of certain aspects of their biosynthesis(LeMaster, 1990).

For introduction of deuterium into amino acid molecules either chemical or biosynthetical methods may be used. Chemical synthesis of these compounds has one significant limitation; it is a very laborious and costly multistep process resulting in a mixture of dl-racemates. This major disadvantage, however essentially delaying its development is a difficulty in preparing the appropriate 2H-labeled amino acids. Chemical synthesis usually results in obtaining a mixture of d,l-racemates (Daub, 1979). Although chemomicrobiological synthesis overcomes this problem (Walker, 1986), the amount of purified enzymes required is prohibitive (Faleev, 1989). By growing algae on media with 96% (v/v) 2H2O, the desired 2H-labeled biochemicals can be produced both at high yields and enrichments (Cox, 1988), but the process involves algae is limited by the expense of a mixture of 2H-labeled amino acids isolated from hydrolysates of biomass (Daboll, 1962). The using for this purpose a certain methylotrophs which assimilates MetOH as a source of carbon and energy via RuMP cycle has a great practical advantage because their ability to produce and acumulate a gram quantities of 2H-labeled amino acids during the growth on media with 2H2O and [U -2H]MetOH and the comparatively low price of [U -2H]MetOH (Karnaukhova, 1994).

The biosynthesis of 2H-labeled amino acids usually involves growth of an organism on selective media containing the labeled substrates: e.g., growth of algae autotrophically on media with content of 2H2O 90% and more, is a well established method for biosynthesis of numerous highly deuterated molecules. But this method, while being generally applicable, is limited by the low resistance of plant cells to 2H2O and expense of 2H-labeled amino acids isolated from algae hydrolysates. Alternative and relatively inexpensive objects for biosynthesis of 2H-labeled amino acids seem certain auxotrophic mutants of methylotrophic bacteria using methanol as a main source of carbon and energy via the ribulose-5-monophosphate (RuMP) and the serine cycle of carbon assimilation. These bacteria have a big advantage because of their ability to produce and accumulate gram quantities of highly enriched, 2H-labeled amino acids during growth on minimal salt media with [U- 2H]methanol and 2H2O and the comparatively low price of [U- 2H]methanol. It is only in recent years that some progress was made in the isolation of a number of versatile the RuMP cycle methylotrophic bacteria, suitable for such studies, though the research that has been done with methylotrophs was limited and suffered from low growth characteristics on 2H2O-containing media. Although the production of 2H-labeled amino acids by obligate methylotroph Methylobacillus flagellatum described by Karnaukhova involves the growth on media with approximately 75% (v/v) 2H2O. We have recently selected a new mutant of facultative methylotroph Brevibacterium methylicum, realizing the NAD+ dependent methanol gehydrogenase (EC variant of RuMP cycle of carbon assimilation, which seems more convinient for the preparation of 2H-labeled amino acids than M. flagellatum because its ability to grow on liquid M9 with 98% (v/v) 2H2O (Mosin, 1995).

Thus, we have previously studied the applicability of the RuMP cycle obligate methylotrophic bacterium Methylobacillus flagellatum for biosynthesis of 2H-labeled leucine 8). This approach is not yet practical for the biosynthesis of 2H-labeled phenylalanine, mainly because of the absence of suitable methylotrophic producer of this amino acid. After selecting a new the RuMP cycle methylotrophic producer of phenylalanine, leucine auxotroph Brevibacterium methylicum, we have used this strain for this research.

Material and methods

2H2O (99.9 at.% 2H) was purchased from Russian Scientific Enterprises, Sankt Petersburg. [U -2H]MetOH (97.5 at.% 2H) was from Biophysic Center, Pushino. DNSCl of sequential grade was from Sigma Chemicals Corp., USA. DZM was prepared from N-NMU, Pierce Chemicals, Corp., USA. A gram-positive parental strain of RuMP facultative methylotroph Brevibacterium methylicum # 5662 was obtained from Russian State Scientific Center for Genetics and Selection of Industrial Microorganisms GNIIGENETIKA (Nesvera, 1991).

Basal salt medium M9 (Miller, 1976) with MetOH as a carbon and energy source (2%, v/v) and supplemented with Leu (100 mg/l) was used for bacterial growth. For isotopic experiments M9 was enriched with [U -2H]MetOH and 2H2O of various content (see Table below). The bacterial growth was carried out under batch conditions (Karnaukhova, 1994). The exponentially growing cells (cell density 2.0 at absorbance 540 nm) were pelleted by centrifugation (1200 g for 15 min), the supernatant was lyophilized and used for chemical derivatization.

The amount of Phe was determined for 10 l aliquotes of liquid M9 by TLC with solvent of iso-PrOH-ammonia (7:3, v/v) using pure commercial available Phe as a standard. The spots were detected by 0.1% ninhydrine solution in acetone, eluted by 0.5% CdCl2 solution in 50% EtOH (2 ml). The absorbance of the eluates was measured at 540 nm, the concentration was calculated using a standard curve.

The samples of lyophilized M9 were dansylated in 1 sodium hydrohycarbonate-acetone (1:2, v/v) solution (pH 10-11) with tenfold excess of DNSCl, and treated according to Devenyi (1976). The derivatization to methyl esters of N-DNS-amino acids was performed in a standard procedure with DZM (Greenstein, 1976).

EI MS was performed on Hitachi MB 80 spectrometer at ionizing energy 70 eV and an ion source temperature of 180oC.


Results and discussion

Phe is synthesized in most bacteria via shikimic acid pathway (Conn, 1986). The precursors for the biosynthesis of Phe are PEP and ERP. The latter compound is an intermediate in the PenP pathway and, in some methylotrophs, the RuMP cycle of carbon assimilation (Antony, 1982; Kletsova, 1988). It is widely accepted, that the native bacterial strains can not to be a strong producers of Phe owing to the effective mechanisms of its metabolic regulation, although certain bacterial mutants with mutations of prephenate dehydrogenase (EC, prephenate hydratase (EC, chorismate mutase (EC and a number of other several enzymes are proved to be an active producers of this amino acid (Umbarger, 1978). That is why the best Phe producing strains once selected were the mutants partially or completely dependent on Tyr or Trp for growth. The reports about the other regulative mechanisms of Phe biosynthesis in bacterial cell are quite uncommon, though today it is known a large number of RuMP cycle auxotrophic mutants of methylotrophs, covering numerious steps in aromatic amino acid biosynthesis (Dijkhuizen, 1996). The selection of new producers of Phe has a big importance for studies of their regulating pathways and possible production of 2H-labeled Phe.

For our studies we have used a new non-traditional producer of phenylalanine: a leucine auxotroph of the facultative methylotrophic bacterium Brevibacterium methylicum obtaining the NAD+ dependent methanol dehydrogenase (EC variant of the RuMP

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