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Crit Rev Microbiol. 2001;27(2):75-131.

A metabolic node in action: chorismate-utilizing enzymes in microorganisms.

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Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, K.U. Leuven, Heverlee, Belgium.


The shikimate pathway has been described as a metabolic tree with many branches that led to the synthesis of an extensive range of products. This pathway is present only in bacteria, fungi, and plants. While there is only little difference in the sequence of the chemical reactions of the pathway, significant differences exist in terms of organization and regulation. In the main trunk of the shikimate pathway, D-erythrose 4-phosphate and phosphoenolpyruvate are converted via shikimate to chorismate. Chorismate is the common precursor for the biosynthesis of the aromatic amino acids, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan, but also for other products as diverse as folate cofactors, benzoid and naphthoid coenzymes, phenazines, and siderophores. Five chorismate-utilizing enzymes have been characterized in microorganisms: chorismate mutase, anthranilate synthase, aminodeoxychorismate synthase, isochorismate synthase, and chorismate pyruvate-lyase. In this review these enzymes are discussed in terms of the corresponding gene structures and regulation, nucleotide and protein sequences, protein structures, and reaction mechanisms. The main emphasis is on transcriptional and posttranslational regulatory mechanisms, in view of how a microbial cell exploits its chorismate pool in diverse anabolic pathways. Comparison of the chorismate-utilizing enzymes has shown that some of them share sequence similarity, suggesting divergent evolution and commonality in reaction mechanisms. However, other chorismate-utilizing enzymes are examples of convergent evolution toward similar reaction capabilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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