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J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2010 Aug;20(8):1196-203.

Towards methionine overproduction in Corynebacterium glutamicum--methanethiol and dimethyldisulfide as reduced sulfur sources.

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Biochemical Engineering Institute, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.


In the present work, methanethiol and dimethyldisulfide were investigated as sulfur source for methionine synthesis in Corynebacterium glutamicum. In silico pathway analysis has predicted a high methionine yield for these reduced compounds provided that they can be utilized. Wild type cells were able to grow on methanethiol and on dimethyldisulfide as sole sulfur source, respectively. Isotope labeling studies with mutant strains exhibiting targeted modification of methionine biosynthesis gave detailed insight into the underlying pathways involved in assimilation of methanethiol and dimethyldisulfide. Both sulfur compounds are incorporated as entire molecule, adding the terminal S-CH3 group to O-acetylhomoserine. In this reaction, methionine is directly formed. MetY (O-acetylhomoserine sulfhydrylase) was identified as enzyme catalyzing this reaction. Deletion of metY resulted in methionine auxotrophic strains grown on methanethiol or dimethyldisulfide as sole sulfur source. Plasmid based overexpression of metY in the delta metY background restored the capability to grow on methanethiol or dimethyldisulfide as sole sulfur source. In vitro studies with the C. glutamicum wild type revealed a relatively low activity of MetY for methanethiol (63 mU/mg) and dimethyldisulfide (61 mU/mg). Overexpression of metY increased the in vitro activity to 1780 mU/mg and was beneficial for methionine production, since the intracellular methionine pool was increased two-fold in the engineered strain. This positive effect was limited by depletion of the metY substrate O-acetylhomoserine, requesting for further metabolic engineering targets towards competitive production strains.

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