10 research outputs found

    Exploring Nitrilase Sequence Space for Enantioselective Catalysis

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    Nitrilases are important in the biosphere as participants in synthesis and degradation pathways for naturally occurring, as well as xenobiotically derived, nitriles. Because of their inherent enantioselectivity, nitrilases are also attractive as mild, selective catalysts for setting chiral centers in fine chemical synthesis. Unfortunately, <20 nitrilases have been reported in the scientific and patent literature, and because of stability or specificity shortcomings, their utility has been largely unrealized. In this study, 137 unique nitrilases, discovered from screening of >600 biotope-specific environmental DNA (eDNA) libraries, were characterized. Using culture-independent means, phylogenetically diverse genomes were captured from entire biotopes, and their genes were expressed heterologously in a common cloning host. Nitrilase genes were targeted in a selection-based expression assay of clonal populations numbering 10(6) to 10(10) members per eDNA library. A phylogenetic analysis of the novel sequences discovered revealed the presence of at least five major sequence clades within the nitrilase subfamily. Using three nitrile substrates targeted for their potential in chiral pharmaceutical synthesis, the enzymes were characterized for substrate specificity and stereospecificity. A number of important correlations were found between sequence clades and the selective properties of these nitrilases. These enzymes, discovered using a high-throughput, culture-independent method, provide a catalytic toolbox for enantiospecific synthesis of a variety of carboxylic acid derivatives, as well as an intriguing library for evolutionary and structural analyses

    The Hansenula polymorpha PER8 Gene Encodes a Novel Peroxisomal Integral Membrane Protein Involved in Proliferation

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    We previously described the isolation of mutants of the methylotrophic yeast Hansenula polymorpha that are defective in peroxisome biogenesis. Here, we describe the characterization of one of these mutants, per8, and the cloning of the PER8 gene. In either methanol or methylamine medium, conditions that normally induce the organdies, per8 cells contain no peroxisome-like structures and peroxisomal enzymes are located in the cytosol. The sequence of PER8 predicts that its product (Per8p) is a novel polypeptide of 34 kD, and antibodies against Per8p recognize a protein of 31 kD. Analysis of the primary sequence of Per8p revealed a 39-amino-acid cysteine-rich segment with similarity to the C3HC4 family of zinc-finger motifs. Overexpression of PER8 results in a markedly enhanced increase in peroxisome numbers. We show that Per8p is an integral membrane protein of the peroxisome and that it is concentrated in the membranes of newly formed organdies. We propose that Per8p is a component of the molecular machinery that controls the proliferation of this organelle.

    PER3, a Gene Required for Peroxisome Biogenesis in Pichia pastoris, Encodes a Peroxisomal Membrane Protein Involved in Protein Import

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    PER genes are essential for the biogenesis of peroxisomes in the yeast Pichia pastoris. Here we describe the cloning of PER3 and functional characterization of its product Per3p. The PER3 sequence predicts that Per3p is a 713-amino acid (81-kDa) hydrophobic protein with at least three potential membrane-spanning domains. We show that Per3p is a membrane protein of the peroxisome. Methanol- or oleate-induced cells of per3-1, a mutant strain generated by chemical mutagenesis, lack normal peroxisomes but contain numerous abnormal vesicular structures. The vesicles contain thiolase, a PTS2 protein, but only a small portion of several other peroxisomal enzymes, including heterologously expressed luciferase, a PTS1 protein. These results suggest that the vesicles in per3-1 cells are peroxisomal remnants similar to those observed in cells of patients with the peroxisomal disorder Zellweger syndrome, and that the mutant is deficient in PTS1 but not PTS2 import. In a strain in which most of PER3 was deleted, peroxisomes as well as peroxisomal remnants appeared to be completely absent, and both PTS1- and PTS2-containing enzymes were located in the cytosol. We propose that Per3p is an essential component of the machinery required for import of all peroxisomal matrix proteins and is composed of independent domains involved in the import of specific PTS groups.

    Characterization of peroxisome-deficient mutants of Hansenula polymorpha

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    In the methylotrophic yeast Hansenula polymorpha, approximately 25% of all methanol-utilization-defective (Mut-) mutants are affected in genes required for peroxisome biogenesis (PER genes). Previously, we reported that one group of per mutants, termed Pim-, are characterized by the presence of a few small peroxisomes with the bulk of peroxisomal enzymes located in the cytosol. Here, we describe a second major group of per mutants that were observed to be devoid of any peroxisome-like structure (Per-). In each Per- mutant, the peroxisomal methanol-pathway enzymes alcohol oxidase, catalase and dihydroxyacetone synthase were present and active but located in the cytosol. Together, the Pim- and Per- mutant collections involved mutations in 14 different PER genes. Two of the genes, PER5 and PER7, were represented by both dominant-negative and recessive alleles. Diploids resulting from crosses of dominant per strains and wild-type H. polymorpha were Mut- and harbored peroxisomes with abnormal morphology. This is the first report of dominant-negative mutations affecting peroxisome biogenesis.

    An Efficient Screen for Peroxisome-Deficient Mutants of Pichia pastoris

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    We describe a rapid and efficient screen for peroxisome-deficient (per) mutants in the yeast Pichia pastoris. The screen relies on the unusual ability of P. pastoris to grow on two carbon sources, methanol and oleic acid, both of which absolutely require peroxisomes to be metabolized. A collection of 280 methanol utilization-defective (Mut-) P. pastoris mutants was isolated, organized into 46 complementation groups, and tested for those that were also oleate-utilization defective (Out-) but still capable of growth on ethanol and glucose. Mutants in 10 groups met this phenotypic description, and 8 of these were observed by electron microscopy to be peroxisome deficient (Per-). In each per mutant, Mut-, Out-, and Per- phenotypes were tightly linked and therefore were most likely due to a mutation at a single locus. Subcellular fractionation experiments indicated that the peroxisomal marker enzyme catalase was mislocalized to the cytosol in both methanol- and oleate-induced cultures of the mutants. In contrast, alcohol oxidase, a peroxisomal methanol utilization pathway enzyme, was virtually absent from per mutant cells. The relative ease of per mutant isolation in P. pastoris, in conjunction with well-developed procedures for its molecular and genetic manipulation, makes this organism an attractive system for studies on peroxisome biogenesis.

    An evolutionary route to xylanase process fitness

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    Directed evolution technologies were used to selectively improve the stability of an enzyme without compromising its catalytic activity. In particular, this article describes the tandem use of two evolution strategies to evolve a xylanase, rendering it tolerant to temperatures in excess of 90┬░C. A library of all possible 19 amino acid substitutions at each residue position was generated and screened for activity after a temperature challenge. Nine single amino acid residue changes were identified that enhanced thermostability. All 512 possible combinatorial variants of the nine mutations were then generated and screened for improved thermal tolerance under stringent conditions. The screen yielded eleven variants with substantially improved thermal tolerance. Denaturation temperature transition midpoints were increased from 61┬░C to as high as 96┬░C. The use of two evolution strategies in combination enabled the rapid discovery of the enzyme variant with the highest degree of fitness (greater thermal tolerance and activity relative to the wild-type parent)