Novel molecular, structural and evolutionary characteristics of the phosphoketolases from bifidobacteria and Coriobacteriales
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Members from the order Bifidobacteriales, which include many species exhibiting health promoting effects, differ from all other organisms in using a unique pathway for carbohydrate metabolism, known as the "bifid shunt", which utilizes the enzyme phosphoketolase (PK) to carry out the phosphorolysis of both fructose-6-phosphate (F6P) and xylulose-5-phosphate (X5P). In contrast to bifidobacteria, the PKs found in other organisms (referred to XPK) are able to metabolize primarily X5P and show very little activity towards F6P. Presently, very little is known about the molecular or biochemical basis of the differences in the two forms of PKs. Comparative analyses of PK sequences from different organisms reported here have identified multiple high-specific sequence features in the forms of conserved signature inserts and deletions (CSIs) in the PK sequences that clearly distinguish the X5P/F6P phosphoketolases (XFPK) of bifidobacteria from the XPK homologs found in most other organisms. Interestingly, most of the molecular signatures that are specific for the XFPK from bifidobacteria are also shared by the PK homologs from the Coriobacteriales order of Actinobacteria. Similarly to the Bifidobacteriales, the order Coriobacteriales is also made up of commensal organisms, that are saccharolytic and able to metabolize wide variety of carbohydrates, producing lactate and other metabolites. Phylogenetic studies provide evidence that the XFPK from bifidobacteria are specifically related to those found in the Coriobacteriales and suggest that the gene for PK (XFPK) was horizontally transferred between these two groups. A number of the identified CSIs in the XFPK sequence, which serve to distinguish the XFPK homologs from XPK homologs, are located at the subunit interface in the structure of the XFPK dimer protein. The results of protein modelling and subunit docking studies indicate that these CSIs are involved in the formation/stabilization of the protein dimer. The significance of these observations regarding the differences in the activities of the XFPK and XPK homologs are discussed. Additionally, this work also discusses the significance of the XFPK-like homologs, similar to those found in bifidobacteria, in the order Coriobacteriales.
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