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Cryoprotectant Biosynthesis and the Selective Accumulation of Threitol in the Freeze-tolerant Alaskan Beetle, Upis ceramboides*

By Kent R. Walters, Qingfeng Pan, Anthony S. Serianni and John G. Duman


Adult Upis ceramboides do not survive freezing in the summer but tolerate freezing to −60 °C in midwinter. The accumulation of two cryoprotective polyols, sorbitol and threitol, is integral to the extraordinary cold-hardiness of this beetle. U. ceramboides are the only animals known to accumulate high concentrations of threitol; however, the biosynthetic pathway has not been studied. A series of 13C-labeled compounds was employed to investigate this biosynthetic pathway using 13C{1H} NMR spectroscopy. In vivo metabolism of 13C-labeled glucose isotopomers demonstrates that C-3—C-6 of glucose become C-1—C-4 of threitol. This labeling pattern is expected for 4-carbon saccharides arising from the pentose phosphate pathway. In vitro experiments show that threitol is synthesized from erythrose 4-phosphate, a C4 intermediate in the PPP. Erythrose 4-phosphate is epimerized and/or isomerized to threose 4-phosphate, which is subsequently reduced by a NADPH-dependent polyol dehydrogenase and dephosphorylated by a sugar phosphatase to form threitol. Threitol 4-phosphate appears to be the preferred substrate of the sugar phosphatase(s), promoting threitol synthesis over that of erythritol. In contrast, the NADPH-dependent polyol dehydrogenase exhibits broad substrate specificity. Efficient erythritol catabolism under conditions that promote threitol synthesis, coupled with preferential threitol biosynthesis, appear to be responsible for the accumulation of high concentrations of threitol (250 mm) without concomitant accumulation of erythritol

Topics: Metabolism and Bioenergetics
Publisher: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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