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Front Microbiol. 2015 Mar 12;6:170. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00170. eCollection 2015.

The Pseudomonas aeruginosa antimetabolite L -2-amino-4-methoxy-trans-3-butenoic acid (AMB) is made from glutamate and two alanine residues via a thiotemplate-linked tripeptide precursor.

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Department of Fundamental Microbiology, University of Lausanne, Lausanne Switzerland.
Protein Analysis Facility, University of Lausanne, Lausanne Switzerland.
Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA USA.


The Pseudomonas aeruginosa toxin L-2-amino-4-methoxy-trans-3-butenoic acid (AMB) is a non-proteinogenic amino acid which is toxic for prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Production of AMB requires a five-gene cluster encoding a putative LysE-type transporter (AmbA), two non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (AmbB and AmbE), and two iron(II)/α-ketoglutarate-dependent oxygenases (AmbC and AmbD). Bioinformatics analysis predicts one thiolation (T) domain for AmbB and two T domains (T1 and T2) for AmbE, suggesting that AMB is generated by a processing step from a precursor tripeptide assembled on a thiotemplate. Using a combination of ATP-PPi exchange assays, aminoacylation assays, and mass spectrometry-based analysis of enzyme-bound substrates and pathway intermediates, the AmbB substrate was identified to be L-alanine (L-Ala), while the T1 and T2 domains of AmbE were loaded with L-glutamate (L-Glu) and L-Ala, respectively. Loading of L-Ala at T2 of AmbE occurred only in the presence of AmbB, indicative of a trans loading mechanism. In vitro assays performed with AmbB and AmbE revealed the dipeptide L-Glu-L-Ala at T1 and the tripeptide L-Ala-L-Glu-L-Ala attached at T2. When AmbC and AmbD were included in the assay, these peptides were no longer detected. Instead, an L-Ala-AMB-L-Ala tripeptide was found at T2. These data are in agreement with a biosynthetic model in which L-Glu is converted into AMB by the action of AmbC, AmbD, and tailoring domains of AmbE. The importance of the flanking L-Ala residues in the precursor tripeptide is discussed.


Pseudomonas; oxyvinylglycine; secondary metabolite; thiotemplate; toxin

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