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J Biotechnol. 2001 Oct 4;91(2-3):211-21.

Novel pathway for phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis in bacteria associated with eukaryotes.

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Centro de Investigación sobre Fijación de Nitrógeno, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apdo. Postal 565-A, Morelos, CP 62251, Cuernavaca, Mexico.


Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is the major membrane-forming phospholipid in eukaryotes and can be synthesised by either of two pathways, the CDP-choline pathway or the methylation pathway. Many prokaryotes lack PC, but it can be found in significant amounts in membranes of distantly related bacteria such as Rhizobacteria and Spirochetes. Enzymatic methylation of phosphatidylethanolamine via the methylation pathway was thought to be the only biosynthetic pathway to yield PC in bacteria. However, a novel choline-dependent pathway for PC biosynthesis has been discovered in Sinorhizobium meliloti. In this pathway, a novel enzymatic activity, PC synthase, condenses choline directly with CDP-diacylglyceride to form PC in one step. Surprisingly, genomes of some pathogens (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Borrelia burgdorferi and Legionella pneumophila) contain genes similar to the sinorhizobial gene for phosphatidylcholine synthase. We, therefore, suggest that the new PC synthase pathway is present in a number of bacteria displaying symbiotic or pathogenic associations with eukaryotes and that the eukaryotic host functions as the provider of choline for this pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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