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J Bacteriol. 2007 Nov;189(22):8250-6. Epub 2007 Aug 24.

Isolated poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) granules are complex bacterial organelles catalyzing formation of PHB from acetyl coenzyme A (CoA) and degradation of PHB to acetyl-CoA.

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  • 1Institut für Mikrobiologie, Universität Stuttgart, Allmandring 31, 70550 Stuttgart, Germany.


Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) granules isolated in native form (nPHB granules) from Ralstonia eutropha catalyzed formation of PHB from (14)C-labeled acetyl coenzyme A (CoA) in the presence of NADPH and concomitantly released CoA, revealing that PHB biosynthetic proteins (acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase, acetoacetyl-CoA reductase, and PHB synthase) are present and active in isolated nPHB granules in vitro. nPHB granules also catalyzed thiolytic cleavage of PHB in the presence of added CoA, resulting in synthesis of 3-hydroxybutyryl-CoA (3HB-CoA) from PHB. Synthesis of 3HB-CoA was also shown by incubation of artificial (protein-free) PHB with CoA and PhaZa1, confirming that PhaZa1 is a PHB depolymerase catalyzing the thiolysis reaction. Acetyl-CoA was the major product detectable after incubation of nPHB granules in the presence of NAD(+), indicating that downstream mobilizing enzyme activities were also present and active in isolated nPHB granules. We propose that intracellular concentrations of key metabolites (CoA, acetyl-CoA, 3HB-CoA, NAD(+)/NADH) determine whether a cell accumulates or degrades PHB. Since the degradation product of PHB is 3HB-CoA, the cells do not waste energy by synthesis and degradation of PHB. Thus, our results explain the frequent finding of simultaneous synthesis and breakdown of PHB.

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