Journal of bacteriology

Elucidation of the role of the methylene-tetrahydromethanopterin dehydrogenase MtdA in the tetrahydromethanopterin-dependent oxidation pathway in Methylobacterium extorquens AM1.

PMID 23504017


The methylotroph Methylobacterium extorquens AM1 oxidizes methanol and methylamine to formaldehyde and subsequently to formate, an intermediate that serves as the branch point between assimilation (formation of biomass) and dissimilation (oxidation to CO₂). The oxidation of formaldehyde to formate is dephosphotetrahydromethanopterin (dH₄MPT) dependent, while the assimilation of carbon into biomass is tetrahydrofolate (H₄F) dependent. This bacterium contains two different enzymes, MtdA and MtdB, both of which are dehydrogenases able to use methylene-dH₄MPT, an intermediate in the oxidation of formaldehyde to formate. Unique to MtdA is a second enzymatic activity with methylene-H₄F. Since methylene-H₄F is the entry point into the biomass pathways, MtdA plays a key role in assimilatory metabolism. However, its role in oxidative metabolism via the dH₄MPT-dependent pathway and its apparent inability to replace MtdB in vivo on methanol growth are not understood. Here, we have shown that an mtdB mutant is able to grow on methylamine, providing a system to study the role of MtdA. We demonstrate that the absence of MtdB results in the accumulation of methenyl-dH₄MPT. Methenyl-dH₄MPT is shown to be a competitive inhibitor of the reduction of methenyl-H₄F to methylene-H₄F catalyzed by MtdA, with an estimated Ki of 10 μM. Thus, methenyl-dH₄MPT accumulation inhibits H₄F-dependent assimilation. Overexpression of mch in the mtdB mutant strain, predicted to reduce methenyl-dH₄MPT accumulation, enhances growth on methylamine. Our model proposes that MtdA regulates carbon flux due to differences in its kinetic properties for methylene-dH₄MPT and for methenyl-H₄F during growth on single-carbon compounds.

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