Methods: The HCPCA chemical structure was determined using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. We conducted whole genome sequencing for the identification of the gene cluster(s) believed to be responsible for phenazine biosynthesis in order to map its corresponding pathway, in addition to bioinformatics analysis to assess the potential of S. kebangsaanensis in producing other useful secondary metabolites.
Results: The S. kebangsaanensis genome comprises an 8,328,719 bp linear chromosome with high GC content (71.35%) consisting of 12 rRNA operons, 81 tRNA, and 7,558 protein coding genes. We identified 24 gene clusters involved in polyketide, nonribosomal peptide, terpene, bacteriocin, and siderophore biosynthesis, as well as a gene cluster predicted to be responsible for phenazine biosynthesis.
Discussion: The HCPCA phenazine structure was hypothesized to derive from the combination of two biosynthetic pathways, phenazine-1,6-dicarboxylic acid and 4-methoxybenzene-1,2-diol, originated from the shikimic acid pathway. The identification of a biosynthesis pathway gene cluster for phenazine antibiotics might facilitate future genetic engineering design of new synthetic phenazine antibiotics. Additionally, these findings confirm the potential of S. kebangsaanensis for producing various antibiotics and secondary metabolites.
METHODS: The enzyme was purified in two steps using affinity and size exclusion chromatography. Enzyme assays were performed using the malachite green assay and enzymatic product was identified using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis. Sequence analysis of PmSTS was performed using multiple sequence alignment (MSA) against plant sesquiterpene synthase sequences. The homology model of PmSTS was generated using I-TASSER server.
RESULTS: Our findings suggest that the recombinant PmSTS is mainly expressed as inclusion bodies and soluble aggregate in the E. coli protein expression system. However, the addition of 15% (v/v) glycerol to the protein purification buffer and the removal of N-terminal 24 amino acids of PmSTS helped to produce homogenous recombinant protein. Enzyme assay showed that recombinant PmSTS is active and specific to the C15 substrate FPP. The optimal temperature and pH for the recombinant PmSTS are 30 °C and pH 8.0, respectively. The GC-MS analysis further showed that PmSTS produces β-sesquiphellandrene as a major product and β-farnesene as a minor product. MSA analysis revealed that PmSTS adopts a modified conserved metal binding motif (NSE/DTE motif). Structural analysis suggests that PmSTS may binds to its substrate similarly to other plant sesquiterpene synthases.
DISCUSSION: The study has revealed that homogenous PmSTS protein can be obtained with the addition of glycerol in the protein buffer. The N-terminal truncation dramatically improved the homogeneity of PmSTS during protein purification, suggesting that the disordered N-terminal region may have caused the formation of soluble aggregate. We further show that the removal of the N-terminus disordered region of PmSTS does not affect the product specificity. The optimal temperature, optimal pH, Km and kcat values of PmSTS suggests that PmSTS shares similar enzyme characteristics with other plant sesquiterpene synthases. The discovery of an altered conserved metal binding motif in PmSTS through MSA analysis shows that the NSE/DTE motif commonly found in terpene synthases is able to accommodate certain level of plasticity to accept variant amino acids. Finally, the homology structure of PmSTS that allows good fitting of substrate analog into the catalytic active site suggests that PmSTS may adopt a sesquiterpene biosynthesis mechanism similar to other plant sesquiterpene synthases.