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Chem Biol. 2004 Oct;11(10):1373-81.

The biosynthesis of the thiazole phosphate moiety of thiamin: the sulfur transfer mediated by the sulfur carrier protein ThiS.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Thiamin-pyrophosphate is an essential cofactor in all living systems. The biosynthesis of both the thiazole and the pyrimidine moieties of this cofactor involves new biosynthetic chemistry. Thiazole-phosphate synthase (ThiG) catalyses the formation of the thiazole moiety of thiamin-pyrophosphate from 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate (DXP), dehydroglycine and the sulfur carrier protein (ThiS), modified on its carboxy terminus as a thiocarboxylate (ThiS-thiocarboxylate). Thiazole biosynthesis is initiated by the formation of a ThiG/DXP imine, which then tautomerizes to an amino-ketone. In this paper we study the sulfur transfer from ThiS-thiocarboxylate to this amino-ketone and trap a new thioenolate intermediate. Surprisingly, thiazole formation results in the replacement of the ThiS-thiocarboxylate sulfur with an oxygen from DXP and not from the buffer, as shown by electrospray ionization Fourier transform mass spectrometry (ESI-FTMS) using (18)O labeling of the 13C-, 15N-depleted protein. These observations further clarify the mechanism of the complex thiazole biosynthesis in bacteria.

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