, Volume 180, Issue 2, pp 134-141
Date: 13 Jun 2003

Xylose metabolism in the anaerobic fungus Piromyces sp. strain E2 follows the bacterial pathway

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The anaerobic fungus Piromyces sp. strain E2 metabolizes xylose via xylose isomerase and d-xylulokinase as was shown by enzymatic and molecular analyses. This resembles the situation in bacteria. The clones encoding the two enzymes were obtained from a cDNA library. The xylose isomerase gene sequence is the first gene of this type reported for a fungus. Northern blot analysis revealed a correlation between mRNA and enzyme activity levels on different growth substrates. Furthermore, the molecular mass calculated from the gene sequence was confirmed by gel permeation chromatography of crude extracts followed by activity measurements. Deduced amino acid sequences of both genes were used for phylogenetic analysis. The xylose isomerases can be divided into two distinct clusters. The Piromyces sp. strain E2 enzyme falls into the cluster comprising plant enzymes and enzymes from bacteria with a low G+C content in their DNA. The d-xylulokinase of Piromyces sp. strain E2 clusters with the bacterial d-xylulokinases. The xylose isomerase gene was expressed in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, resulting in a low activity (25±13 nmol min−1mg protein-1). These two fungal genes may be applicable to metabolic engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the alcoholic fermentation of hemicellulosic materials.