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Microbiologyopen. 2012 Sep;1(3):298-310. doi: 10.1002/mbo3.34. Epub 2012 Aug 14.

An activator for pyruvoyl-dependent l-aspartate α-decarboxylase is conserved in a small group of the γ-proteobacteria including Escherichia coli.

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Microbial Genetics Laboratory, Genetic Strains Research Center, National Institute of Genetics 1111 Yata, Mishima, Shizuoka, 411-8540, Japan.


In bacteria, β-alanine is formed via the action of l-aspartate α-decarboxylase (PanD) which is one of the small class of pyruvoyl-dependent enzymes. The pyruvoyl cofactor in these enzymes is formed via the intramolecular rearrangement of a serine residue in the peptide backbone leading to chain cleavage and formation of the covalently-bound cofactor from the serine residue. This reaction was previously thought to be uncatalysed. Here we show that in Escherichia coli, PanD is activated by the putative acetyltransferase YhhK, subsequently termed PanZ. Activation of PanD both in vivo and in vitro is PanZ-dependent. PanZ binds to PanD, and we demonstrate that a PanZ(N45A) site-directed mutant is unable to enhance cleavage of the proenzyme PanD despite retaining affinity for PanD. This suggests that the putative acetyltransferases domain of PanZ may be responsible for activation to enhance the processing of PanD. Although panD is conserved among most bacteria, the panZ gene is conserved only in E. coli-related enterobacterial species including Shigella, Salmonella, Klebsiella and Yersinia. These bacteria are found predominantly in the gut flora where pantothenate is abundant and regulation of PanD by PanZ allows these organisms to closely regulate production of β-alanine and hence pantothenate in response to metabolic demand.


ADC; PanD; YhhK; coenzyme A; pantothenate; β-alanine

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