Siroheme, the cofactor for sulfite and nitrite reductases, is formed by methylation, oxidation, and iron insertion into the tetrapyrrole uroporphyrinogen III (Uro-III). The CysG protein performs all three steps of siroheme biosynthesis in the enteric bacteria Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica. In either taxon, cysG mutants cannot reduce sulfite to sulfide and require a source of sulfide or cysteine for growth. In addition, CysG-mediated methylation of Uro-III is required for de novo synthesis of cobalamin (coenzyme B 12) inS. enterica. We have determined that cysG mutants of the related enteric bacterium Klebsiella aerogenes have no defect in the reduction of sulfite to sulfide. These data suggest that an alternative enzyme allows for siroheme biosynthesis in CysG-deficient strains of Klebsiella. However, Klebsiella cysG mutants fail to synthesize coenzyme B 12, suggesting that the alternative siroheme biosynthetic pathway proceeds by a different route. Gene cysF, encoding an alternative siroheme synthase homologous to CysG, has been identified by genetic analysis and lies within the cysFDNC operon; the cysF gene is absent from the E. coli and S. enterica genomes. While CysG is coregulated with the siroheme-dependent nitrite reductase, the cysF gene is regulated by sulfur starvation. Models for alternative regulation of the CysF and CysG siroheme synthases in Klebsiella and for the loss of the cysF gene from the ancestor of E. coli and S. enterica are presented. Sulfur is a constituent of numerous critical biomolecules i
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