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J Biol Chem. 2001 Mar 9;276(10):7209-17. Epub 2000 Dec 8.

The dhb operon of Bacillus subtilis encodes the biosynthetic template for the catecholic siderophore 2,3-dihydroxybenzoate-glycine-threonine trimeric ester bacillibactin.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg, D-35032 Marburg, Germany.


Bacillus subtilis was reported to produce the catecholic siderophore itoic acid (2,3-dihydroxybenzoate (DHB)-glycine) in response to iron deprivation. However, by inspecting the DNA sequences of the genes dhbE, dhbB, and dhbF as annotated by the B. subtilis genome project to encode the synthetase complex for the siderophore assembly, various sequence errors within the dhbF gene were predicted and confirmed by re-sequencing. According to the corrected sequence, dhbF encodes a dimodular instead of a monomodular nonribosomal peptide synthetase. We have heterologously expressed, purified, and assayed the substrate selectivity of the recombinant proteins DhbB, DhbE, and DhbF. DhbE, a stand-alone adenylation domain of 59.9 kDa, activates, in an ATP-dependent reaction, DHB, which is subsequently transferred to the free thiol group of the cofactor phosphopantetheine of the bifunctional isochorismate lyase/aryl carrier protein DhbB. The third synthetase, DhbF, is a dimodular nonribosomal peptide synthetase of 264 kDa that specifically adenylates threonine and, to a lesser extent, glycine and that covalently loads both amino acids onto their corresponding peptidyl carrier domains. To functionally link the dhb gene cluster to siderophore synthesis, we have disrupted the dhbF gene. Comparative mass spectrometric analysis of culture extracts from both the wild type and the dhbF mutant led to the identification of a mass peak at m/z 881 ([M-H](1-)) that corresponds to a cyclic trimeric ester of DHB-glycine-threonine.

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