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See detailNatural variation of chronological aging in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species reveals diet-dependent mechanisms of life span control
Jung, Paul UL; Zhang, Zhi UL; Paczia, Nicole UL et al

in npj Aging and Mechanisms of Disease (2018), 4(3),

Aging is a complex trait of broad scientific interest, especially because of its intrinsic link with common human diseases. Pioneering work on aging-related mechanisms has been made in Saccharomyces ... [more ▼]

Aging is a complex trait of broad scientific interest, especially because of its intrinsic link with common human diseases. Pioneering work on aging-related mechanisms has been made in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mainly through the use of deletion collections isogenic to the S288c reference strain. In this study, using a recently published high-throughput approach, we quantified chronological life span (CLS) within a collection of 58 natural strains across seven different conditions. We observed a broad aging variability suggesting the implication of diverse genetic and environmental factors in chronological aging control. Two major Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) were identified within a biparental population obtained by crossing two natural isolates with contrasting aging behavior. Detection of these QTLs was dependent upon the nature and concentration of the carbon sources available for growth. In the first QTL, the RIM15 gene was identified as major regulator of aging under low glucose condition, lending further support to the importance of nutrient-sensing pathways in longevity control under calorie restriction. In the second QTL, we could show that the SER1 gene, encoding a conserved aminotransferase of the serine synthesis pathway not previously linked to aging, is causally associated with CLS regulation, especially under high glucose condition. These findings hint toward a new mechanism of life span control involving a trade-off between serine synthesis and aging, most likely through modulation of acetate and trehalose metabolism. More generally it shows that genetic linkage studies across natural strains represent a promising strategy to further unravel the molecular basis of aging. [less ▲]

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See detailConfronting the catalytic dark matter encoded by sequenced genomes
Ellens, Kenneth W.; Christian, Nils; Satagopam, Venkata UL et al

in Nucleic Acids Research (2017), 45(20), 11495-11514

The post-genomic era has provided researchers with a deluge of protein sequences. However, a significant fraction of the proteins encoded by sequenced genomes remains without an identified function. Here ... [more ▼]

The post-genomic era has provided researchers with a deluge of protein sequences. However, a significant fraction of the proteins encoded by sequenced genomes remains without an identified function. Here, we aim at determining how many enzymes of uncertain or unknown function are still present in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae and human proteomes. Using information available in the Swiss-Prot, BRENDA and KEGG databases in combination with a Hidden Markov Model-based method, we estimate that >600 yeast and 2000 human proteins (>30% of their proteins of unknown function) are enzymes whose precise function(s) remain(s) to be determined. This illustrates the impressive scale of the ‘unknown enzyme problem’. We extensively review classical biochemical as well as more recent systematic experimental and computational approaches that can be used to support enzyme function discovery research. Finally, we discuss the possible roles of the elusive catalysts in light of recent developments in the fields of enzymology and metabolism as well as the significance of the unknown enzyme problem in the context of metabolic modeling, metabolic engineering and rare disease research. [less ▲]

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See detailMolecular Identification of D-Ribulokinase in Budding Yeast and Mammals
Singh, Charandeep UL; Glaab, Enrico UL; Linster, Carole UL

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2017), 292(3), 1005-1028

Proteomes of even well characterized organisms still contain a high percentage of proteins with unknown or uncertain molecular and/or biological function. A significant fraction of those proteins are ... [more ▼]

Proteomes of even well characterized organisms still contain a high percentage of proteins with unknown or uncertain molecular and/or biological function. A significant fraction of those proteins are predicted to have catalytic properties. Here we aimed at identifying the function of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Ydr109c protein and of its human homolog FGGY, both of which belong to the broadly conserved FGGY family of carbohydrate kinases. Functionally identified members of this family phosphorylate 3- to 7-carbon sugars or sugar derivatives, but the endogenous substrate of S. cerevisiae Ydr109c and human FGGY has remained unknown. Untargeted metabolomics analysis of an S. cerevisiae deletion mutant of YDR109C revealed ribulose as one of the metabolites with the most significantly changed intracellular concentration as compared to a wild-type strain. In human HEK293 cells, ribulose could only be detected when ribitol was added to the cultivation medium and under this condition, FGGY silencing led to ribulose accumulation. Biochemical characterization of the recombinant purified Ydr109c and FGGY proteins showed a clear substrate preference of both kinases for D-ribulose over a range of other sugars and sugar derivatives tested, including L-ribulose. Detailed sequence and structural analyses of Ydr109c and FGGY as well as homologs thereof furthermore allowed the definition of a 5-residue D-ribulokinase signature motif (TCSLV). The physiological role of the herein identified eukaryotic D-ribulokinase remains unclear, but we speculate that S. cerevisiae Ydr109c and human FGGY could act as metabolite repair enzymes, serving to re-phosphorylate free D-ribulose generated by promiscuous phosphatases from D-ribulose-5-phosphate. In human cells, FGGY can additionally participate in ribitol metabolism. [less ▲]

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See detailSaccharomyces cerevisiae Forms D-2-Hydroxyglutarate and Couples its Degradation to D-Lactate Formation via a Cytosolic Transhydrogenase.
Becker-Kettern, Julia UL; Paczia, Nicole UL; Conrotte, Jean-Francois et al

in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (2016)

The D or L form of 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG) accumulates in certain rare neurometabolic disorders and high D-2HG levels are also found in several types of cancer. Although 2HG has been detected in ... [more ▼]

The D or L form of 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG) accumulates in certain rare neurometabolic disorders and high D-2HG levels are also found in several types of cancer. Although 2HG has been detected in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, its metabolism in yeast has remained largely unexplored. Here we show that S. cerevisiae actively forms the D enantiomer of 2HG. Accordingly, the S. cerevisiae genome encodes two homologs of the human D-2HG dehydrogenase: Dld2, which, as its human homolog, is a mitochondrial protein, and the cytosolic protein Dld3. Intriguingly, we found that a dld3Delta knockout strain accumulates millimolar levels of D-2HG, while a dld2Delta knockout strain displayed only very moderate increases in D-2HG. Recombinant Dld2 and Dld3, both currently annotated as D-lactate dehydrogenases, efficiently oxidized D-2HG to alpha-ketoglutarate. Depletion of D-lactate levels in the dld3Delta, but not in the dld2Delta mutant, led to the discovery of a new type of enzymatic activity, carried by Dld3, to convert D-2HG to alpha-ketoglutarate, namely an FAD-dependent transhydrogenase activity using pyruvate as a hydrogen acceptor. We also provide evidence that Ser3 and Ser33, which are primarily known for oxidizing 3-phosphoglycerate in the main serine biosynthesis pathway, in addition reduce alpha-ketoglutarate to D-2HG using NADH and represent major intracellular sources of D-2HG in yeast. Based on our observations, we propose that D-2HG is mainly formed and degraded in the cytosol of S. cerevisiae cells in a process that couples D-2HG metabolism to the shuttling of reducing equivalents from cytosolic NADH to the mitochondrial respiratory chain via the D-lactate dehydrogenase Dld1. [less ▲]

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See detailEnzyme complexity in intermediary metabolism.
Van Schaftingen, Emile; Veiga-da-Cunha, Maria; Linster, Carole UL

in Journal of inherited metabolic disease (2015), 38(4), 721-7

A good appraisal of the function of enzymes is essential for the understanding of inborn errors of metabolism. However, it is clear now that the 'one gene, one enzyme, one catalytic function' rule ... [more ▼]

A good appraisal of the function of enzymes is essential for the understanding of inborn errors of metabolism. However, it is clear now that the 'one gene, one enzyme, one catalytic function' rule oversimplifies the actual situation. Genes often encode several related proteins, which may differ in their subcellular localisation, regulation or function. Furthermore, enzymes often show several catalytic activities. In some cases, this is because they are multifunctional, possessing two or more different active sites that catalyse different, physiologically related reactions. In enzymes with broad specificity or in multispecificity enzymes, a single type of catalytic site performs the same reaction on different physiological substrates at similar rates. Enzymes that act physiologically in only one reaction often show nonetheless substrate promiscuity: they act at low rates on compounds that resemble their physiological substrate(s), thus forming non-classical metabolites, which are in some cases eliminated by metabolite repair. In addition to their catalytic role, enzymes may have moonlighting functions, i.e. non-catalytic functions that are most often not related with their catalytic activity. Deficiency in such functions may participate in the phenotype of inborn errors of metabolism. Evolution has also made that some enzymes have lost their catalytic activity to become allosteric proteins. [less ▲]

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See detailProtocols and programs for high-throughput growth and aging phenotyping in yeast.
Jung, Paul UL; Christian, Nils UL; Kay, Daniel UL et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(3), 0119807

In microorganisms, and more particularly in yeasts, a standard phenotyping approach consists in the analysis of fitness by growth rate determination in different conditions. One growth assay that combines ... [more ▼]

In microorganisms, and more particularly in yeasts, a standard phenotyping approach consists in the analysis of fitness by growth rate determination in different conditions. One growth assay that combines high throughput with high resolution involves the generation of growth curves from 96-well plate microcultivations in thermostated and shaking plate readers. To push the throughput of this method to the next level, we have adapted it in this study to the use of 384-well plates. The values of the extracted growth parameters (lag time, doubling time and yield of biomass) correlated well between experiments carried out in 384-well plates as compared to 96-well plates or batch cultures, validating the higher-throughput approach for phenotypic screens. The method is not restricted to the use of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as shown by consistent results for other species selected from the Hemiascomycete class. Furthermore, we used the 384-well plate microcultivations to develop and validate a higher-throughput assay for yeast Chronological Life Span (CLS), a parameter that is still commonly determined by a cumbersome method based on counting "Colony Forming Units". To accelerate analysis of the large datasets generated by the described growth and aging assays, we developed the freely available software tools GATHODE and CATHODE. These tools allow for semi-automatic determination of growth parameters and CLS behavior from typical plate reader output files. The described protocols and programs will increase the time- and cost-efficiency of a number of yeast-based systems genetics experiments as well as various types of screens. [less ▲]

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See detailOccurrence and subcellular distribution of the NAD(P)HX repair system in mammals.
Marbaix, Alexandre Y.; Tyteca, Donatienne; Niehaus, Tom D. et al

in The Biochemical journal (2014), 460(1), 49-58

Hydration of NAD(P)H to NAD(P)HX, which inhibits several dehydrogenases, is corrected by an ATP-dependent dehydratase and an epimerase recently identified as the products of the vertebrate Carkd ... [more ▼]

Hydration of NAD(P)H to NAD(P)HX, which inhibits several dehydrogenases, is corrected by an ATP-dependent dehydratase and an epimerase recently identified as the products of the vertebrate Carkd (carbohydrate kinase domain) and Aibp (apolipoprotein AI-binding protein) genes respectively. The purpose of the present study was to assess the presence of these enzymes in mammalian tissues and determine their subcellular localization. The Carkd gene encodes proteins with a predicted mitochondrial propeptide (mCARKD), a signal peptide (spCARKD) or neither of them (cCARKD). Confocal microscopy analysis of transfected CHO (Chinese-hamster ovary) cells indicated that cCARKD remains in the cytosol, whereas mCARKD and spCARKD are targeted to the mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum respectively. Unlike the other two forms, spCARKD is N-glycosylated, supporting its targeting to the endoplasmic reticulum. The Aibp gene encodes two different proteins, which we show to be targeted to the mitochondria (mAIBP) and the cytosol (cAIBP). Quantification of the NAD(P)HX dehydratase and epimerase activities in rat tissues, performed after partial purification, indicated that both enzymes are widely distributed, with total activities of approximately 3-10 nmol/min per g of tissue. Liver fractionation by differential centrifugation confirmed the presence of the dehydratase and the epimerase in the cytosol and in mitochondria. These data support the notion that NAD(P)HX repair is extremely widespread. [less ▲]

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See detailMetabolite proofreading, a neglected aspect of intermediary metabolism
Van Schaftingen, E.; Rzem, R.; Marbaix, A. et al

in Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease (2013), 36(3), 427-34

Enzymes of intermediary metabolism are less specific than what is usually assumed: they often act on metabolites that are not their 'true' substrate, making abnormal metabolites that may be deleterious if ... [more ▼]

Enzymes of intermediary metabolism are less specific than what is usually assumed: they often act on metabolites that are not their 'true' substrate, making abnormal metabolites that may be deleterious if they accumulate. Some of these abnormal metabolites are reconverted to normal metabolites by repair enzymes, which play therefore a role akin to the proofreading activities of DNA polymerases and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. An illustrative example of such repair enzymes is L-2-hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenase, which eliminates a metabolite abnormally made by a Krebs cycle enzyme. Mutations in L-2-hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenase lead to L-2-hydroxyglutaric aciduria, a leukoencephalopathy. Other examples are the epimerase and the ATP-dependent dehydratase that repair hydrated forms of NADH and NADPH; ethylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase, which eliminates an abnormal metabolite formed by acetyl-CoA carboxylase, an enzyme of fatty acid synthesis; L-pipecolate oxidase, which repairs a metabolite formed by a side activity of an enzyme of L-proline biosynthesis. Metabolite proofreading enzymes are likely quite common, but most of them are still unidentified. A defect in these enzymes may account for new metabolic disorders. [less ▲]

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See detailImmune-responsive gene 1 protein links metabolism to immunity by catalyzing itaconic acid production
Michelucci, Alessandro UL; Cordes, Thekla UL; Ghelfi, Jenny UL et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2013)

Immunoresponsive gene 1 (Irg1) is highly expressed in mammalian macrophages during inflammation, but its biological function has not yet been elucidated. Here, we identify Irg1 as the gene coding for an ... [more ▼]

Immunoresponsive gene 1 (Irg1) is highly expressed in mammalian macrophages during inflammation, but its biological function has not yet been elucidated. Here, we identify Irg1 as the gene coding for an enzyme producing itaconic acid (also known as methylenesuccinic acid) through the decarboxylation of cis-aconitate, a tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediate. Using a gain-and-loss-of-function approach in both mouse and human immune cells, we found Irg1 expression levels correlating with the amounts of itaconic acid, a metabolite previously proposed to have an antimicrobial effect. We purified IRG1 protein and identified its cis-aconitate decarboxylating activity in an enzymatic assay. Itaconic acid is an organic compound that inhibits isocitrate lyase, the key enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt, a pathway essential for bacterial growth under specific conditions. Here we show that itaconic acid inhibits the growth of bacteria expressing isocitrate lyase, such as Salmonella enterica and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Furthermore, Irg1 gene silencing in macrophages resulted in significantly decreased intracellular itaconic acid levels as well as significantly reduced antimicrobial activity during bacterial infections. Taken together, our results demonstrate that IRG1 links cellular metabolism with immune defense by catalyzing itaconic acid production. [less ▲]

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See detailMetabolite damage and its repair or pre-emption
Linster, Carole UL; Van Schaftingen, E.; Hanson, A. D.

in Nature Chemical Biology (2013), 9(2), 72-80

It is increasingly evident that metabolites suffer various kinds of damage, that such damage happens in all organisms, and that cells have dedicated systems for damage repair and containment. Firstly ... [more ▼]

It is increasingly evident that metabolites suffer various kinds of damage, that such damage happens in all organisms, and that cells have dedicated systems for damage repair and containment. Firstly, chemical biology is demonstrating that diverse metabolites are damaged by side-reactions of ‘promiscuous’ enzymes or by spontaneous chemical reactions, that the products are useless or toxic, and that the unchecked buildup of these products can be devastating. Secondly, genetic and genomic evidence from pro- and eukaryotes is implicating a network of novel, conserved enzymes that repair damaged metabolites or somehow pre-empt damage. Metabolite (i.e. small molecule) repair is analogous to macromolecule (DNA and protein) repair and appears from comparative genomic evidence to be equally widespread. Comparative genomics also implies that metabolite repair could be the function of many conserved protein families lacking known activities. How – and how well – cells deal with metabolite damage impacts fields ranging from medical genetics to metabolic engineering. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of oxidative stress on ascorbate biosynthesis in Chlamydomonas via regulation of the VTC2 gene encoding a GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase
Urzica, E. I.; Adler, Lital N.; Page, M. D. et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2012), 287(17), 14234-45

The L-galactose (Smirnoff-Wheeler) pathway represents the major route to L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) biosynthesis in higher plants. Arabidopsis thaliana VTC2 and its paralogue VTC5 function as GDP-L ... [more ▼]

The L-galactose (Smirnoff-Wheeler) pathway represents the major route to L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) biosynthesis in higher plants. Arabidopsis thaliana VTC2 and its paralogue VTC5 function as GDP-L-galactose phosphorylases converting GDP-L-galactose to L-galactose-1-P, thus catalyzing the first committed step in the biosynthesis of L-ascorbate. Here we report that the L-galactose pathway of ascorbate biosynthesis described in higher plants is conserved in green algae. The Chlamydomonas reinhardtii genome encodes all the enzymes required for vitamin C biosynthesis via the L-galactose pathway. We have characterized recombinant C. reinhardtii VTC2 as an active GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase. C. reinhardtii cells exposed to oxidative stress show increased VTC2 mRNA and L-ascorbate levels. Genes encoding enzymatic components of the ascorbate-glutathione system (e.g. ascorbate peroxidase, Mn superoxide dismutase, dehydroascorbate reductase) are also up-regulated in response to increased oxidative stress. These results indicate that C. reinhardtii VTC2, like its plant homologs, is a highly regulated enzyme in ascorbate biosynthesis in green algae and that, together with the ascorbate recycling system, the L-galactose pathway represents the major route for providing protective levels of ascorbate in oxidatively stressed algal cells. [less ▲]

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See detailEthylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase, a new enzyme involved in metabolite proofreading
Linster, Carole UL; Noël, Gaëtane; Stroobant, Vincent et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2011), 286(50), 42992-3003

A limited number of enzymes are known that play a role analogous to DNA proofreading by eliminating non-classical metabolites formed by side activities of enzymes of intermediary metabolism. Because few ... [more ▼]

A limited number of enzymes are known that play a role analogous to DNA proofreading by eliminating non-classical metabolites formed by side activities of enzymes of intermediary metabolism. Because few such "metabolite proofreading enzymes" are known, our purpose was to search for an enzyme able to degrade ethylmalonyl-CoA, a potentially toxic metabolite formed at a low rate from butyryl-CoA by acetyl-CoA carboxylase and propionyl-CoA carboxylase, two major enzymes of lipid metabolism. We show that mammalian tissues contain a previously unknown enzyme that decarboxylates ethylmalonyl-CoA and, at lower rates, methylmalonyl-CoA but that does not act on malonyl-CoA. Ethylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase is particularly abundant in brown adipose tissue, liver, and kidney in mice, and is essentially cytosolic. Because Escherichia coli methylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase belongs to the family of enoyl-CoA hydratase (ECH), we searched mammalian databases for proteins of uncharacterized function belonging to the ECH family. Combining this database search approach with sequencing data obtained on a partially purified enzyme preparation, we identified ethylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase as ECHDC1. We confirmed this identification by showing that recombinant mouse ECHDC1 has a substantial ethylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase activity and a lower methylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase activity but no malonyl-CoA decarboxylase or enoyl-CoA hydratase activity. Furthermore, ECHDC1-specific siRNAs decreased the ethylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase activity in human cells and increased the formation of ethylmalonate, most particularly in cells incubated with butyrate. These findings indicate that ethylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase may correct a side activity of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and suggest that its mutation may be involved in the development of certain forms of ethylmalonic aciduria. [less ▲]

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See detailExtremely conserved ATP- or ADP-dependent enzymatic system for nicotinamide nucleotide repair
Marbaix, Alexandre Y.; Noël, Gaëtane; Detroux, Aline M. et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2011), 286(48), 41246-52

The reduced forms of NAD and NADP, two major nucleotides playing a central role in metabolism, are continuously damaged by enzymatic or heat-dependent hydration. We report the molecular identification of ... [more ▼]

The reduced forms of NAD and NADP, two major nucleotides playing a central role in metabolism, are continuously damaged by enzymatic or heat-dependent hydration. We report the molecular identification of the eukaryotic dehydratase that repairs these nucleotides and show that this enzyme (Carkd in mammals, YKL151C in yeast) catalyzes the dehydration of the S form of NADHX and NADPHX, at the expense of ATP, which is converted to ADP. Surprisingly, the Escherichia coli homolog, YjeF, a bidomain protein, catalyzes a similar reaction, but using ADP instead of ATP. The latter reaction is ascribable to the C-terminal domain of YjeF. This represents an unprecedented example of orthologous enzymes using either ADP or ATP as phosphoryl donor. We also show that eukaryotic proteins homologous to the N-terminal domain of YjeF (apolipoprotein A-1-binding protein (AIBP) in mammals, YNL200C in yeast) catalyze the epimerization of the S and R forms of NAD(P)HX, thereby allowing, in conjunction with the energy-dependent dehydratase, the repair of both epimers of NAD(P)HX. Both enzymes are very widespread in eukaryotes, prokaryotes, and archaea, which together with the ADP dependence of the dehydratase in some species indicates the ancient origin of this repair system. [less ▲]

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See detailA novel GDP-D-glucose phosphorylase involved in quality control of the nucleoside diphosphate sugar pool in Caenorhabditis elegans and mammals
Adler, Lital N.; Gomez, Tara A.; Clarke, Steven G. et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2011), 286(24), 21511-23

The plant VTC2 gene encodes GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase, a rate-limiting enzyme in plant vitamin C biosynthesis. Genes encoding apparent orthologs of VTC2 exist in both mammals, which produce vitamin C ... [more ▼]

The plant VTC2 gene encodes GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase, a rate-limiting enzyme in plant vitamin C biosynthesis. Genes encoding apparent orthologs of VTC2 exist in both mammals, which produce vitamin C by a distinct metabolic pathway, and in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans where vitamin C biosynthesis has not been demonstrated. We have now expressed cDNAs of the human and worm VTC2 homolog genes (C15orf58 and C10F3.4, respectively) and found that the purified proteins also display GDP-hexose phosphorylase activity. However, as opposed to the plant enzyme, the major reaction catalyzed by these enzymes is the phosphorolysis of GDP-D-glucose to GDP and D-glucose 1-phosphate. We detected activities with similar substrate specificity in worm and mouse tissue extracts. The highest expression of GDP-D-glucose phosphorylase was found in the nervous and male reproductive systems. A C. elegans C10F3.4 deletion strain was found to totally lack GDP-D-glucose phosphorylase activity; this activity was also found to be decreased in human HEK293T cells transfected with siRNAs against the human C15orf58 gene. These observations confirm the identification of the worm C10F3.4 and the human C15orf58 gene expression products as the GDP-D-glucose phosphorylases of these organisms. Significantly, we found an accumulation of GDP-D-glucose in the C10F3.4 mutant worms, suggesting that the GDP-D-glucose phosphorylase may function to remove GDP-D-glucose formed by GDP-D-mannose pyrophosphorylase, an enzyme that has previously been shown to lack specificity for its physiological D-mannose 1-phosphate substrate. We propose that such removal may prevent the misincorporation of glucosyl residues for mannosyl residues into the glycoconjugates of worms and mammals. [less ▲]

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See detailThe interplay between protein L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase activity and insulin-like signaling to extend lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans
Khare, Shilpi; Linster, Carole UL; Clarke, Steven G.

in PLoS ONE (2011), 6(6), 20850

The protein L-isoaspartyl-O-methyltransferase functions to initiate the repair of isomerized aspartyl and asparaginyl residues that spontaneously accumulate with age in a variety of organisms ... [more ▼]

The protein L-isoaspartyl-O-methyltransferase functions to initiate the repair of isomerized aspartyl and asparaginyl residues that spontaneously accumulate with age in a variety of organisms. Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes lacking the pcm-1 gene encoding this enzyme display a normal lifespan and phenotype under standard laboratory growth conditions. However, significant defects in development, egg laying, dauer survival, and autophagy have been observed in pcm-1 mutant nematodes when deprived of food and when exposed to oxidative stress. Interestingly, overexpression of this repair enzyme in both Drosophila and C. elegans extends adult lifespan under thermal stress. In this work, we show the involvement of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling (IIS) pathway in PCM-1-dependent lifespan extension in C. elegans. We demonstrate that reducing the levels of the DAF-16 downstream transcriptional effector of the IIS pathway by RNA interference reduces the lifespan extension resulting from PCM-1 overexpression. Using quantitative real-time PCR analysis, we show the up-regulation of DAF-16-dependent stress response genes in the PCM-1 overexpressor animals compared to wild-type and pcm-1 mutant nematodes under mild thermal stress conditions. Additionally, similar to other long-lived C. elegans mutants in the IIS pathway, including daf-2 and age-1 mutants, PCM-1 overexpressor adult animals display increased resistance to severe thermal stress, whereas pcm-1 mutant animals survive less long under these conditions. Although we observe a higher accumulation of damaged proteins in pcm-1 mutant nematodes, the basal level of isoaspartyl residues detected in wild-type animals was not reduced by PCM-1 overexpression. Our results support a signaling role for the protein L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase in lifespan extension that involves the IIS pathway, but that may be independent of its function in overall protein repair. [less ▲]

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See detailDefective responses to oxidative stress in protein l-isoaspartyl repair-deficient Caenorhabditis elegans
Khare, Shilpi; Gomez, Tara; Linster, Carole UL et al

in Mechanisms of Ageing & Development (2009), 130(10), 670-80

We have shown that Caenorhabditis elegans lacking the PCM-1 protein repair l-isoaspartyl methyltransferase are more sensitive to oxidative stress than wild-type nematodes. Exposure to the redox-cycling ... [more ▼]

We have shown that Caenorhabditis elegans lacking the PCM-1 protein repair l-isoaspartyl methyltransferase are more sensitive to oxidative stress than wild-type nematodes. Exposure to the redox-cycling quinone juglone upon exit from dauer diapause results in defective egg-laying (Egl phenotype) in the pcm-1 mutants only. Treatment with paraquat, a redox-cycling dipyridyl, causes a more severe developmental delay at the second larval stage in pcm-1 mutants than in wild-type nematodes. Finally, exposure to homocysteine and homocysteine thiolactone, molecules that can induce oxidative stress via distinct mechanisms, results in a more pronounced delay in development at the first larval stage in pcm-1 mutants than in wild-type animals. Homocysteine treatment also induced the Egl phenotype in mutant but not wild-type nematodes. All of the effects of these agents were reversed upon addition of vitamin C, indicating that the developmental delay and egg-laying defects result from oxidative stress. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that a mutation in the gene encoding the insulin-like receptor DAF-2 suppresses the Egl phenotype in pcm-1 mutants treated with juglone. Our results support a role of PCM-1 in the cellular responses mediated by the DAF-2 insulin-like signaling pathway in C. elegans for optimal protection against oxidative stress. [less ▲]

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See detailL-Ascorbate biosynthesis in higher plants: the role of VTC2
Linster, Carole UL; Clarke, Steven G.

in Trends in Plant Science (2008), 13(11), 567-73

In the past year, the last missing enzyme of the L-galactose pathway, the linear form of which appears to represent the major biosynthetic route to L-ascorbate (vitamin C) in higher plants, has been ... [more ▼]

In the past year, the last missing enzyme of the L-galactose pathway, the linear form of which appears to represent the major biosynthetic route to L-ascorbate (vitamin C) in higher plants, has been identified as a GDP-L-galactos phosphorylase. This enzyme catalyzes the first committed step in the synthesis of that vital antioxidant and enzyme cofactor. Here, we discuss how GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase enzymes, encoded in Arabidopsis by the paralogous VTC2 and VTC5 genes, function in concert with the other enzymes of the L-galactose pathway to provide plants with the appropriate levels of L-ascorbate. We hypothesize that regulation of L-ascorbate biosynthesis might occur at more than one step and warrants further investigation to allow for the manipulation of vitamin C levels in plants. [less ▲]

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See detailA second GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase in Arabidopsis en route to vitamin C covalent intermediate and substrate requirements for the conserved reaction
Linster, Carole UL; Adler, Lital N.; Webb, Kristofor et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2008), 283(27), 18483-92

The Arabidopsis thaliana VTC2 gene encodes an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of GDP-L-galactose to L-galactose 1-phosphate in the first committed step of the Smirnoff-Wheeler pathway to plant ... [more ▼]

The Arabidopsis thaliana VTC2 gene encodes an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of GDP-L-galactose to L-galactose 1-phosphate in the first committed step of the Smirnoff-Wheeler pathway to plant vitamin C synthesis. Mutations in VTC2 had previously been found to lead to only partial vitamin C deficiency. Here we show that the Arabidopsis gene At5g55120 encodes an enzyme with high sequence identity to VTC2. Designated VTC5, this enzyme displays substrate specificity and enzymatic properties that are remarkably similar to those of VTC2, suggesting that it may be responsible for residual vitamin C synthesis in vtc2 mutants. The exact nature of the reaction catalyzed by VTC2/VTC5 is controversial because of reports that kiwifruit and Arabidopsis VTC2 utilize hexose 1-phosphates as phosphorolytic acceptor substrates. Using liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy and a VTC2-H238N mutant, we provide evidence that the reaction proceeds through a covalent guanylylated histidine residue within the histidine triad motif. Moreover, we show that both the Arabidopsis VTC2 and VTC5 enzymes catalyze simple phosphorolysis of the guanylylated enzyme, forming GDP and L-galactose 1-phosphate from GDP-L-galactose and phosphate, with poor reactivity of hexose 1-phosphates as phosphorolytic acceptors. Indeed, the endogenous activities from Japanese mustard spinach, lemon, and spinach have the same substrate requirements. These results show that Arabidopsis VTC2 and VTC5 proteins and their homologs in other plants are enzymes that guanylylate a conserved active site His residue with GDP-L-galactose, forming L-galactose 1-phosphate for vitamin C synthesis, and regenerate the enzyme with phosphate to form GDP. [less ▲]

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See detailArabidopsis VTC2 encodes a GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase, the last unknown enzyme in the Smirnoff-Wheeler pathway to ascorbic acid in plants
Linster, Carole UL; Gomez, Tara A.; Christensen, Kathryn C. et al

in Journal of Biological Chemistry (2007), 282(26), 18879-85

The first committed step in the biosynthesis of L-ascorbate from D-glucose in plants requires conversion of GDP-L-galactose to L-galactose 1-phosphate by a previously unidentified enzyme. Here we show ... [more ▼]

The first committed step in the biosynthesis of L-ascorbate from D-glucose in plants requires conversion of GDP-L-galactose to L-galactose 1-phosphate by a previously unidentified enzyme. Here we show that the protein encoded by VTC2, a gene mutated in vitamin C-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana strains, is a member of the GalT/Apa1 branch of the histidine triad protein superfamily that catalyzes the conversion of GDP-L-galactose to L-galactose 1-phosphate in a reaction that consumes inorganic phosphate and produces GDP. In characterizing recombinant VTC2 from A. thaliana as a specific GDP-L-galactose/GDP-D-glucose phosphorylase, we conclude that enzymes catalyzing each of the ten steps of the Smirnoff-Wheeler pathway from glucose to ascorbate have been identified. Finally, we identify VTC2 homologs in plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates, suggesting that a similar reaction is used widely in nature. [less ▲]

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See detailVitamin C. Biosynthesis, recycling and degradation in mammals.
Linster, Carole UL; Van Schaftingen, Emile

in FEBS Journal (2007), 274(1), 1-22

Vitamin C, a reducing agent and antioxidant, is a cofactor in reactions catalyzed by Cu(+)-dependent monooxygenases and Fe(2+)-dependent dioxygenases. It is synthesized, in vertebrates having this ... [more ▼]

Vitamin C, a reducing agent and antioxidant, is a cofactor in reactions catalyzed by Cu(+)-dependent monooxygenases and Fe(2+)-dependent dioxygenases. It is synthesized, in vertebrates having this capacity, from d-glucuronate. The latter is formed through direct hydrolysis of uridine diphosphate (UDP)-glucuronate by enzyme(s) bound to the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, sharing many properties with, and most likely identical to, UDP-glucuronosyltransferases. Non-glucuronidable xenobiotics (aminopyrine, metyrapone, chloretone and others) stimulate the enzymatic hydrolysis of UDP-glucuronate, accounting for their effect to increase vitamin C formation in vivo. Glucuronate is converted to l-gulonate by aldehyde reductase, an enzyme of the aldo-keto reductase superfamily. l-Gulonate is converted to l-gulonolactone by a lactonase identified as SMP30 or regucalcin, whose absence in mice leads to vitamin C deficiency. The last step in the pathway of vitamin C synthesis is the oxidation of l-gulonolactone to l-ascorbic acid by l-gulonolactone oxidase, an enzyme associated with the endoplasmic reticulum membrane and deficient in man, guinea pig and other species due to mutations in its gene. Another fate of glucuronate is its conversion to d-xylulose in a five-step pathway, the pentose pathway, involving identified oxidoreductases and an unknown decarboxylase. Semidehydroascorbate, a major oxidation product of vitamin C, is reconverted to ascorbate in the cytosol by cytochrome b(5) reductase and thioredoxin reductase in reactions involving NADH and NADPH, respectively. Transmembrane electron transfer systems using ascorbate or NADH as electron donors serve to reduce semidehydroascorbate present in neuroendocrine secretory vesicles and in the extracellular medium. Dehydroascorbate, the fully oxidized form of vitamin C, is reduced spontaneously by glutathione, as well as enzymatically in reactions using glutathione or NADPH. The degradation of vitamin C in mammals is initiated by the hydrolysis of dehydroascorbate to 2,3-diketo-l-gulonate, which is spontaneously degraded to oxalate, CO(2) and l-erythrulose. This is at variance with bacteria such as Escherichia coli, which have enzymatic degradation pathways for ascorbate and probably also dehydroascorbate. [less ▲]

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