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J Bacteriol. 2001 Dec;183(24):7165-72.

Conversion of pipecolic acid into lysine in Penicillium chrysogenum requires pipecolate oxidase and saccharopine reductase: characterization of the lys7 gene encoding saccharopine reductase.

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Area of Microbiology, Faculty of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of León, León, Spain.


Pipecolic acid is a component of several secondary metabolites in plants and fungi. This compound is useful as a precursor of nonribosomal peptides with novel pharmacological activities. In Penicillium chrysogenum pipecolic acid is converted into lysine and complements the lysine requirement of three different lysine auxotrophs with mutations in the lys1, lys2, or lys3 genes allowing a slow growth of these auxotrophs. We have isolated two P. chrysogenum mutants, named 7.2 and 10.25, that are unable to convert pipecolic acid into lysine. These mutants lacked, respectively, the pipecolate oxidase that converts pipecolic acid into piperideine-6-carboxylic acid and the saccharopine reductase that catalyzes the transformation of piperideine-6-carboxylic acid into saccharopine. The 10.25 mutant was unable to grow in Czapek medium supplemented with alpha-aminoadipic acid. A DNA fragment complementing the 10.25 mutation has been cloned; sequence analysis of the cloned gene (named lys7) revealed that it encoded a protein with high similarity to the saccharopine reductase from Neurospora crassa, Magnaporthe grisea, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Complementation of the 10.25 mutant with the cloned gene restored saccharopine reductase activity, confirming that lys7 encodes a functional saccharopine reductase. Our data suggest that in P. chrysogenum the conversion of pipecolic acid into lysine proceeds through the transformation of pipecolic acid into piperideine-6-carboxylic acid, saccharopine, and lysine by the consecutive action of pipecolate oxidase, saccharopine reductase, and saccharopine dehydrogenase.

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