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J Biol Chem. 1987 Jun 5;262(16):7927-31.

Acetoacetyl-acyl carrier protein synthase, a potential regulator of fatty acid biosynthesis in bacteria.


The first condensation reaction in the fatty acid biosynthetic pathway in Escherichia coli was rate-limiting as judged by analysis of the relative pool sizes of acyl carrier protein (ACP) thioester intermediates in vivo. Comparable concentrations of acetyl-ACP, malonyl-ACP, and nonesterified ACP were present during logarithmic growth, whereas long-chain acyl-ACP comprised a minor fraction of the total ACP pool. The antibiotic cerulenin was used to irreversibly inhibit both beta-ketoacyl-ACP synthases I and II. However, acyl-ACP formation in vivo was not blocked by this antibiotic, and short-chain (4-8-carbon) acyl-ACPs increased to 60% of the total ACP pool in cerulenin-treated cells. These data suggested that existence of a cerulenin-resistant condensing enzyme that was capable of catalyzing the initial steps in chain elongation. A unique enzymatic activity, acetoacetyl-ACP synthase, that specifically catalyzed the condensation of malonyl-ACP and acetyl-ACP was detected in E. coli cell extracts. Acetoacetyl-ACP synthase activity was not inhibited by cerulenin and was present in extracts prepared from a double mutant harboring genetic lesions in beta-ketoacyl-ACP synthases I and II (fabB20 fabF3). These data point to the condensation of malonyl-ACP and acetyl-ACP as the rate-controlling reaction in fatty acid biosynthesis and implicate acetoacetyl-ACP synthase as the pacemaker of fatty acid production in organisms and organelles that possess dissociated (Type II) fatty acid synthase systems.

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