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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mutations in Escherichia coli aceE and ribB genes allow survival of strains defective in the first step of the isoprenoid biosynthesis pathway.

  • Author(s): Perez-Gil, Jordi;
  • Uros, Eva Maria;
  • Sauret-Güeto, Susanna;
  • Lois, L Maria;
  • Kirby, James;
  • Nishimoto, Minobu;
  • Baidoo, Edward EK;
  • Keasling, Jay D;
  • Boronat, Albert;
  • Rodriguez-Concepcion, Manuel
  • Editor(s): McCutcheon, John
  • et al.

A functional 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway is required for isoprenoid biosynthesis and hence survival in Escherichia coli and most other bacteria. In the first two steps of the pathway, MEP is produced from the central metabolic intermediates pyruvate and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate via 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate (DXP) by the activity of the enzymes DXP synthase (DXS) and DXP reductoisomerase (DXR). Because the MEP pathway is absent from humans, it was proposed as a promising new target to develop new antibiotics. However, the lethal phenotype caused by the deletion of DXS or DXR was found to be suppressed with a relatively high efficiency by unidentified mutations. Here we report that several mutations in the unrelated genes aceE and ribB rescue growth of DXS-defective mutants because the encoded enzymes allowed the production of sufficient DXP in vivo. Together, this work unveils the diversity of mechanisms that can evolve in bacteria to circumvent a blockage of the first step of the MEP pathway.

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