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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2006 Jan;70(1):10-21.

The physiological role of the ribulose monophosphate pathway in bacteria and archaea.

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Max-Plank-Institut für terrestrische Mikrobiologie, Marburg, Germany.


3-Hexulose-6-phosphate synthase (HPS) and 6-phospho-3-hexuloisomerase (PHI) are the key enzymes of the ribulose monophosphate pathway. This pathway, which was originally found in methylotrophic bacteria, is now recognized as a widespread prokaryotic pathway involved in formaldehyde fixation and detoxification. Recent progress, involving biochemical and genetic approaches in elucidating the physiological functions of HPS and PHI in methylotrophic as well as non-methylotrophic bacteria are described in this review. HPS and PHI orthologs are also found in a variety of archaeal strains. Some archaeal HPS orthologs are fused with other genes to form single ORF (e.g., the hps-phi gene of Pyrococcus spp. and the faeB-hpsB gene of Methanosarcina spp). These fused gene products exhibit functions corresponding to the individual enzyme activities, and are more efficient than equivalent systems made up of discrete enzymes. Recently, a novel metabolic function for HPS and PHI has been proposed in which these enzymes catalyze the reverse reaction for the biosynthesis of pentose phosphate in some archaeal strains. Thus the enzyme system plays a different role in bacteria and archaea by catalyzing the forward and reverse reactions respectively.

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