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J Bacteriol. 2007 Dec;189(24):8901-13. Epub 2007 Oct 5.

Unusual starch degradation pathway via cyclodextrins in the hyperthermophilic sulfate-reducing archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus strain 7324.

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  • 1Institut für Allgemeine Mikrobiologie, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel, Am Botanischen Garten 3-9, D-24118 Kiel, Germany.


The hyperthermophilic archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus strain 7324 has been shown to grow on starch and sulfate and thus represents the first sulfate reducer able to degrade polymeric sugars. The enzymes involved in starch degradation to glucose 6-phosphate were studied. In extracts of starch-grown cells the activities of the classical starch degradation enzymes, alpha-amylase and amylopullulanase, could not be detected. Instead, evidence is presented here that A. fulgidus utilizes an unusual pathway of starch degradation involving cyclodextrins as intermediates. The pathway comprises the combined action of an extracellular cyclodextrin glucanotransferase (CGTase) converting starch to cyclodextrins and the intracellular conversion of cyclodextrins to glucose 6-phosphate via cyclodextrinase (CDase), maltodextrin phosphorylase (Mal-P), and phosphoglucomutase (PGM). These enzymes, which are all induced after growth on starch, were characterized. CGTase catalyzed the conversion of starch to mainly beta-cyclodextrin. The gene encoding CGTase was cloned and sequenced and showed highest similarity to a glucanotransferase from Thermococcus litoralis. After transport of the cyclodextrins into the cell by a transport system to be defined, these molecules are linearized via a CDase, catalyzing exclusively the ring opening of the cyclodextrins to the respective maltooligodextrins. These are degraded by a Mal-P to glucose 1-phosphate. Finally, PGM catalyzes the conversion of glucose 1-phosphate to glucose 6-phosphate, which is further degraded to pyruvate via the modified Embden-Meyerhof pathway.

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