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Environ Microbiol Rep. 2017 Aug;9(4):404-410. doi: 10.1111/1758-2229.12545. Epub 2017 Jun 6.

Single-cell genomics reveals pyrrolysine-encoding potential in members of uncultivated archaeal candidate division MSBL1.

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Red Sea Research Center, Thuwal, 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia.
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA.
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Computational Bioscience Research Center, Thuwal, 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802, USA.
Department for Microbiology & Cell Science, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida/IFAS, Davie, FL, 33314, USA.


Pyrrolysine (Pyl), the 22nd canonical amino acid, is only decoded and synthesized by a limited number of organisms in the domains Archaea and Bacteria. Pyl is encoded by the amber codon UAG, typically a stop codon. To date, all known Pyl-decoding archaea are able to carry out methylotrophic methanogenesis. The functionality of methylamine methyltransferases, an important component of corrinoid-dependent methyltransfer reactions, depends on the presence of Pyl. Here, we present a putative pyl gene cluster obtained from single-cell genomes of the archaeal Mediterranean Sea Brine Lakes group 1 (MSBL1) from the Red Sea. Functional annotation of the MSBL1 single cell amplified genomes (SAGs) also revealed a complete corrinoid-dependent methyl-transfer pathway suggesting that members of MSBL1 may possibly be capable of synthesizing Pyl and metabolizing methylated amines.

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