Characterization of Sphingomonas paucimobilis SYK-6 genes involved in degradation of lignin-related compounds
SYK-6 is able to grow on a wide variety of dimeric lignin compounds. These compounds are degraded via vanillate and syringate by a unique enzymatic system, composed of etherases, O demethylases, ring cleavage oxygenases and side chain cleaving enzymes. These unique and specific lignin modification enzymes are thought to be powerful tools for utilization of the most abundant aromatic biomass, lignin. Here, we focus on the genes and enzymes involved in β-aryl ether cleavage and biphenyl degradation. Two unique etherases are involved in the reductive cleavage of β-aryl ether. These two etherases have amino acid sequence similarity with the glutathione S-transferases, and use glutathione as a hydrogen donor. It was found that 5,5′-dehydrodivanillate, which is a typical lignin-related biphenyl structure, was transformed into 5-carboxyvanillate by the reaction sequence of O-demethylation, meta-ring cleavage, and hydrolysis, and the genes involved in the latter two reactions have been characterized. Vanillate and syringate are the most common intermediate metabolites in lignin catabolism. These compounds are initially O-demethylated and the resulting diol compounds, protocatechuate (PCA) and 3-O-methylgallate, respectively, are subjected to ring cleavage catalyzed by PCA 4,5-dioxygenase. The ring cleavage products generated are further degraded through the PCA 4,5-cleavage pathway. We have isolated and characterized genes for enzymes involved in this pathway. Disruption of a gene for 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylate hydrolase (ligI) in this pathway suggested that an alternative route for 3-O-methylgallate degradation, in which ligI is not involved, would play a role in syringate catabolism. In this article, we describe the genetic and biochemical features of the S. paucimobilis SYK-6 genes involved in degradation of lignin-related compounds. A possible application of the SYK-6 lignin degradation system to produce a valuable chemical material is also described.
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