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J Bacteriol. 1999 Dec;181(23):7154-60.

Bacillus subtilis yckG and yckF encode two key enzymes of the ribulose monophosphate pathway used by methylotrophs, and yckH is required for their expression.

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  • 1Fermentation and Biotechnology Laboratories, Ajinomoto Co., Inc., Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki-shi, 210-0801, Japan.


The ribulose monophosphate (RuMP) pathway is one of the metabolic pathways for the synthesis of compounds containing carbon-carbon bonds from one-carbon units and is found in many methane- and methanol-utilizing bacteria, which are known as methylotrophs. The characteristic enzymes of this pathway are 3-hexulose-6-phosphate synthase (HPS) and 6-phospho-3-hexuloisomerase (PHI), neither of which was thought to exist outside methylotrophs. However, the presumed yckG gene product (YckG) of Bacillus subtilis shows a primary structure similar to that of methylotroph HPS (F. Kunst et al., Nature 390:249-256, 1997). We have also investigated the sequence similarity between the yckF gene product (YckF) and methylotroph PHI (Y. Sakai, R. Mitsui, Y. Katayama, H. Yanase, and N. Kato, FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 176:125-130, 1999) and found that the yckG and yckF genes of B. subtilis express enzymatic activities of HPS and PHI, respectively. Both of these activities were concomitantly induced in B. subtilis by formaldehyde, with induction showing dependence on the yckH gene, but were not induced by methanol, formate, or methylamine. Disruption of either gene caused moderate sensitivity to formaldehyde, suggesting that these enzymes may act as a detoxification system for formaldehyde in B. subtilis. In conclusion, we found an active yckG (for HPS)-yckF (for PHI) gene structure (now named hxlA-hxlB) in a nonmethylotroph, B. subtilis, which inherently preserves the RuMP pathway.

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