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J Biol Chem. 2012 Jan 2;287(1):757-66. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.305219. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

The ethylmalonyl-CoA pathway is used in place of the glyoxylate cycle by Methylobacterium extorquens AM1 during growth on acetate.

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  • 1Institute of Microbiology, ETH Zurich, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland.


Acetyl-CoA assimilation was extensively studied in organisms harboring the glyoxylate cycle. In this study, we analyzed the metabolism of the facultative methylotroph Methylobacterium extorquens AM1, which lacks isocitrate lyase, the key enzyme in the glyoxylate cycle, during growth on acetate. MS/MS-based proteomic analysis revealed that the protein repertoire of M. extorquens AM1 grown on acetate is similar to that of cells grown on methanol and includes enzymes of the ethylmalonyl-CoA (EMC) pathway that were recently shown to operate during growth on methanol. Dynamic 13C labeling experiments indicate the presence of distinct entry points for acetate: the EMC pathway and the TCA cycle. 13C steady-state metabolic flux analysis showed that oxidation of acetyl-CoA occurs predominantly via the TCA cycle and that assimilation occurs via the EMC pathway. Furthermore, acetyl-CoA condenses with the EMC pathway product glyoxylate, resulting in malate formation. The latter, also formed by the TCA cycle, is converted to phosphoglycerate by a reaction sequence that is reversed with respect to the serine cycle. Thus, the results obtained in this study reveal the utilization of common pathways during the growth of M. extorquens AM1 on C1 and C2 compounds, but with a major redirection of flux within the central metabolism. Furthermore, our results indicate that the metabolic flux distribution is highly complex in this model methylotroph during growth on acetate and is fundamentally different from organisms using the glyoxylate cycle.

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