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J Bacteriol. 1993 Sep;175(17):5366-74.

Cysteine biosynthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae occurs through the transsulfuration pathway which has been built up by enzyme recruitment.

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Centre de Génétique Moléculaire du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


The transsulfuration pathways allow the interconversion of homocysteine and cysteine with the intermediary formation of cystathionine. The various organisms studied up to now incorporate reduced sulfur into a three- or a four-carbon chain and use differently the transsulfuration pathways to synthesize sulfur amino acids. In enteric bacteria, the synthesis of cysteine is the first step of organic sulfur metabolism and homocysteine is derived from cysteine. Fungi are capable of incorporating reduced sulfur into a four-carbon chain, and they possess two operating transsulfuration pathways. By contrast, synthesis of cysteine from homocysteine is the only existing transsulfuration pathway in mammals. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, genetic, phenotypic, and enzymatic study of mutants has allowed us to demonstrate that homocysteine is the first sulfur amino acid to be synthesized and cysteine is derived only from homocysteine (H. Cherest and Y. Surdin-Kerjan, Genetics 130:51-58, 1992). We report here the cloning of genes STR4 and STR1, encoding cystathionine beta-synthase and cystathionine gamma-lyase, respectively. The only phenotypic consequence of the inactivation of STR1 or STR4 is cysteine auxotrophy. The sequencing of gene STR4 has allowed us to compare all of the known sequences of transsulfuration enzymes and enzymes catalyzing the incorporation of reduced sulfur in carbon chains. These comparisons reveal a partition into two families based on sequence motifs. This partition mainly correlates with similarities in the catalytic mechanisms of these enzymes.

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