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See detailWeb-based QTL linkage analysis and bulk segregant analysis of yeast sequencing data
Zhang, Zhi; Jung, Paul; Groues, Valentin UL et al

in GigaScience (in press)

Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) mapping using bulk segregants is an effective approach for identifying genetic variants associated with phenotypes of interest in model organisms. By exploiting next ... [more ▼]

Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) mapping using bulk segregants is an effective approach for identifying genetic variants associated with phenotypes of interest in model organisms. By exploiting next-generation sequencing technology, the QTL mapping accuracy can be improved significantly, providing a valuable means to annotate new genetic variants. However, setting up a comprehensive analysis framework for this purpose is a time-consuming and error prone task, posing many challenges for scientists with limited experience in this domain. Findings: Here, we present BSA4Yeast, a comprehensive web-application for QTL mapping via bulk segregant analysis of yeast sequencing data. The software provides an automated and efficiency-optimized data processing, up-to-date functional annotations, and an interactive web-interface to explore identified QTLs. Conclusion: BSA4Yeast enables researchers to identify plausible candidate genes in QTL regions efficiently in order to validate their genetic variations experimentally as causative for a phenotype of interest. BSA4Yeast is freely available at https://bsa4yeast.lcsb.uni.lu. [less ▲]

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See detailFailure to eliminate a phosphorylated glucose analog leads to neutropenia in patients with G6PT and G6PC3 deficiency
Veiga-da-Cunha, Maria; Chevalier, Nathalie; Stephenne, Xavier et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2019), 116(4), 1241-1250

Neutropenia presents an important clinical problem in patients with G6PC3 or G6PT deficiency, yet why neutropenia occurs is unclear. We discovered that G6PC3 and G6PT collaborate to dephosphorylate a ... [more ▼]

Neutropenia presents an important clinical problem in patients with G6PC3 or G6PT deficiency, yet why neutropenia occurs is unclear. We discovered that G6PC3 and G6PT collaborate to dephosphorylate a noncanonical metabolite (1,5anhydroglucitol-6-phosphate; 1,5AG6P) which is produced when glucose-phosphorylating enzymes erroneously act on 1,5-anhydroglucitol, a food-derived polyol present in blood. In patients or mice with G6PC3 or G6PT deficiency, 1,5AG6P accumulates and inhibits the first step of glycolysis. This is particularly detrimental in neutrophils, since their energy metabolism depends almost entirely on glycolysis. Consistent with our findings, we observed that treatment with a 1,5anhydroglucitol-lowering drug treats neutropenia in G6PC3deficient mice. Our findings highlight that the elimination of noncanonical side products by metabolite-repair enzymes makes an important contribution to mammalian physiology. [less ▲]

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See detailNAD(P)HX dehydratase (NAXD) deficiency: a novel neurodegenerative disorder exacerbated by febrile illnesses
Van Bergen, Nicole; Guo, Yiran; Rankin, Julia et al

in Brain: a Journal of Neurology (2019), 142(1), 50-58

Physical stress, including high temperatures, may damage the central metabolic nicotinamide nucleotide cofactors [NAD(P)H], generating toxic derivatives [NAD(P)HX]. The highly conserved enzyme NAD(P)HX ... [more ▼]

Physical stress, including high temperatures, may damage the central metabolic nicotinamide nucleotide cofactors [NAD(P)H], generating toxic derivatives [NAD(P)HX]. The highly conserved enzyme NAD(P)HX dehydratase (NAXD) is essential for intracellular repair of NAD(P)HX. Here we present a series of infants and children who suffered episodes of febrile illness-induced neurodegeneration or cardiac failure and early death. Whole-exome or whole-genome sequencing identified recessive NAXD variants in each case. Variants were predicted to be potentially deleterious through in silico analysis. Reverse-transcription PCR confirmed altered splicing in one case. Subject fibroblasts showed highly elevated concentrations of the damaged cofactors S-NADHX, R-NADHX and cyclic NADHX. NADHX accumulation was abrogated by lentiviral transduction of subject cells with wild-type NAXD. Subject fibroblasts and muscle biopsies showed impaired mitochondrial function, higher sensitivity to metabolic stress in media containing galactose and azide, but not glucose, and decreased mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production. Recombinant NAXD protein harbouring two missense variants leading to the amino acid changes p.(Gly63Ser) and p.(Arg608Cys) were thermolabile and showed a decrease in Vmax and increase in KM for the ATP-dependent NADHX dehydratase activity. This is the first study to identify pathogenic variants in NAXD and to link deficient NADHX repair with mitochondrial dysfunction. The results show that NAXD deficiency can be classified as a metabolite repair disorder in which accumulation of damaged metabolites likely triggers devastating effects in tissues such as the brain and the heart, eventually leading to early childhood death. [less ▲]

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See detail3‑Phosphoglycerate Transhydrogenation Instead of Dehydrogenation Alleviates the Redox State Dependency of Yeast de Novo L‑Serine Synthesis
Paczia, Nicole UL; Becker, Julia UL; Conrotte, Jean-François UL et al

in Biochemistry (2019)

The enzymatic mechanism of 3-phosphoglycerate to 3-phosphohydroxypyruvate oxidation, which forms the first step of the main conserved de novo serine synthesis pathway, has been revisited recently in ... [more ▼]

The enzymatic mechanism of 3-phosphoglycerate to 3-phosphohydroxypyruvate oxidation, which forms the first step of the main conserved de novo serine synthesis pathway, has been revisited recently in certain microorganisms. While this step is classically considered to be catalyzed by an NAD-dependent dehydrogenase (e.g., PHGDH in mammals), evidence has shown that in Pseudomonas, Escherichia coli, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the PHGDH homologues act as transhydrogenases. As such, they use α-ketoglutarate, rather than NAD+, as the final electron acceptor, thereby producing D-2-hydroxyglutarate in addition to 3-phosphohydroxypyruvate during 3-phosphoglycerate oxidation. Here, we provide a detailed biochemical and sequence−structure relationship characterization of the yeast PHGDH homologues, encoded by the paralogous SER3 and SER33 genes, in comparison to the human and other PHGDH enzymes. Using in vitro assays with purified recombinant enzymes as well as in vivo growth phenotyping and metabolome analyses of yeast strains engineered to depend on either Ser3, Ser33, or human PHGDH for serine synthesis, we confirmed that both yeast enzymes act as transhydrogenases, while the human enzyme is a dehydrogenase. In addition, we show that the yeast paralogs differ from the human enzyme in their sensitivity to inhibition by serine as well as hydrated NADH derivatives. Importantly, our in vivo data support the idea that a 3PGA transhydrogenase instead of dehydrogenase activity confers a growth advantage under conditions where the NAD+:NADH ratio is low. The results will help to elucidate why different species evolved different reaction mechanisms to carry out a widely conserved metabolic step in central carbon metabolism. [less ▲]

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See detailNAD(P)HX repair deficiency causes central metabolic perturbations in yeast and human cells
Becker-Kettern, Julia UL; Paczia, Nicole UL; Conrotte, Jean-François UL et al

in FEBS Journal (2018)

NADHX and NADPHX are hydrated and redox inactive forms of the NADH and NADPH cofactors, known to inhibit several dehydrogenases in vitro. A metabolite repair system that is conserved in all domains of ... [more ▼]

NADHX and NADPHX are hydrated and redox inactive forms of the NADH and NADPH cofactors, known to inhibit several dehydrogenases in vitro. A metabolite repair system that is conserved in all domains of life and that comprises the two enzymes NAD(P)HX dehydratase and NAD(P)HX epimerase, allows reconversion of both the S- and R-epimers of NADHX and NADPHX to the normal cofactors. An inherited deficiency in this system has recently been shown to cause severe neurometabolic disease in children. Although evidence for the presence of NAD(P)HX has been obtained in plant and human cells, little is known about the mechanism of formation of these derivatives in vivo and their potential effects on cell metabolism. Here, we show that NAD(P)HX dehydratase deficiency in yeast leads to an important, temperature-dependent NADHX accumulation in quiescent cells with a concomitant depletion of intracellular NAD+ and serine pools. We demonstrate that NADHX potently inhibits the first step of the serine synthesis pathway in yeast. Human cells deficient in the NAD(P)HX dehydratase also accumulated NADHX and showed decreased viability. In addition, those cells consumed more glucose and produced more lactate, potentially indicating impaired mitochondrial function. Our results provide first insights into how NADHX accumulation affects cellular functions and pave the way for a better understanding of the mechanism(s) underlying the rapid and severe neurodegeneration leading to early death in NADHX repair deficient children. [less ▲]

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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 detailMillifluidic culture improves human midbrain organoid vitality and differentiation
Berger, Emanuel UL; Magliaro, Chiara; Paczia, Nicole UL et al

in Lab on a Chip - Miniaturisation for Chemistry and Biology (2018)

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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 detailNit1 is a metabolite repair enzyme that hydrolyzes deaminated glutathione
Peracchi, Alessio; Veiga-da-Cunha, Maria; Kuhara, Tomiko et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2017), 1613736114

The mammalian gene Nit1 (nitrilase-like protein 1) encodes a protein that is highly conserved in eukaryotes and is thought to act as a tumor suppressor. Despite being ∼35% sequence identical to ω-amidase ... [more ▼]

The mammalian gene Nit1 (nitrilase-like protein 1) encodes a protein that is highly conserved in eukaryotes and is thought to act as a tumor suppressor. Despite being ∼35% sequence identical to ω-amidase (Nit2), the Nit1 protein does not hydrolyze efficiently α-ketoglutaramate (a known physiological substrate of Nit2), and its actual enzymatic function has so far remained a puzzle. In the present study, we demonstrate that both the mammalian Nit1 and its yeast ortholog are amidases highly active toward deaminated glutathione (dGSH; i.e., a form of glutathione in which the free amino group has been replaced by a carbonyl group). We further show that Nit1-KO mutants of both human and yeast cells accumulate dGSH and the same compound is excreted in large amounts in the urine of Nit1-KO mice. Finally, we show that several mammalian aminotransferases (transaminases), both cytosolic and mitochondrial, can form dGSH via a common (if slow) side-reaction and provide indirect evidence that transaminases are mainly responsible for dGSH formation in cultured mammalian cells. Altogether, these findings delineate a typical instance of metabolite repair, whereby the promiscuous activity of some abundant enzymes of primary metabolism leads to the formation of a useless and potentially harmful compound, which needs a suitable “repair enzyme” to be destroyed or reconverted into a useful metabolite. The need for a dGSH repair reaction does not appear to be limited to eukaryotes: We demonstrate that Nit1 homologs acting as excellent dGSH amidases also occur in Escherichia coli and other glutathione-producing bacteria. [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 detailA conserved phosphatase destroys toxic glycolytic side products in mammals and yeast
Collard, François; Baldin, Francesca; Gerin, Isabelle et al

in Nature Chemical Biology (2016), 12(8), 601-607

Metabolic enzymes are very specific. However, most of them show weak side activities toward compounds that are structurally related to their physiological substrates, thereby producing side products that ... [more ▼]

Metabolic enzymes are very specific. However, most of them show weak side activities toward compounds that are structurally related to their physiological substrates, thereby producing side products that may be toxic. In some cases, ‘metabolite repair enzymes’ eliminating side products have been identified. We show that mammalian glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase and pyruvate kinase, two core glycolytic enzymes, produce 4-phosphoerythronate and 2-phospho-L-lactate, respectively. 4-Phosphoerythronate strongly inhibits an enzyme of the pentose phosphate pathway, whereas 2-phospho-L-lactate inhibits the enzyme producing the glycolytic activator fructose 2,6-bisphosphate. We discovered that a single, widely conserved enzyme, known as phosphoglycolate phosphatase (PGP) in mammals, dephosphorylates both 4-phosphoerythronate and 2-phospho-L-lactate, thereby preventing a block in the pentose phosphate pathway and glycolysis. Its yeast ortholog, Pho13, similarly dephosphorylates 4-phosphoerythronate and 2-phosphoglycolate, a side product of pyruvate kinase. Our work illustrates how metabolite repair enzymes can make up for the limited specificity of metabolic enzymes and permit high flux in central metabolic pathways. [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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