Journal of bacteriology

Three-component lysine/ornithine decarboxylation system in Lactobacillus saerimneri 30a.

PMID 23316036


Lactic acid bacteria play a pivotal role in many food fermentations and sometimes represent a health threat due to the ability of some strains to produce biogenic amines that accumulate in foods and cause trouble following ingestion. These strains carry specific enzymatic systems catalyzing the uptake of amino acid precursors (e.g., ornithine and lysine), the decarboxylation inside the cell, and the release of the resulting biogenic amines (e.g., putrescine and cadaverine). This study aimed to identify the system involved in production of cadaverine from lysine, which has not been described to date for lactic acid bacteria. Strain Lactobacillus saerimneri 30a (formerly called Lactobacillus sp. 30a) produces both putrescine and cadaverine. The sequencing of its genome showed that the previously described ornithine decarboxylase gene was not associated with the gene encoding an ornithine/putrescine exchanger as in other bacteria. A new hypothetical decarboxylation system was detected in the proximity of the ornithine decarboxylase gene. It consisted of two genes encoding a putative decarboxylase sharing sequence similarities with ornithine decarboxylases and a putative amino acid transporter resembling the ornithine/putrescine exchangers. The two decarboxylases were produced in Escherichia coli, purified, and characterized in vitro, whereas the transporter was heterologously expressed in Lactococcus lactis and functionally characterized in vivo. The overall data led to the conclusion that the two decarboxylases and the transporter form a three-component decarboxylation system, with the new decarboxylase being a specific lysine decarboxylase and the transporter catalyzing both lysine/cadaverine and ornithine/putrescine exchange. To our knowledge, this is an unprecedented observation of a bacterial three-component decarboxylation system.