An alternative polyamine biosynthetic pathway is widespread in bacteria and essential for biofilm formation in Vibrio cholerae

Jeongmi Lee, Vanessa Sperandio, Doug E. Frantz, Jamie Longgood, Andrew Camilli, Margaret A. Phillips, Anthony J. Michael

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Polyamines are small organic cations found in all cells, and the biosynthetic pathway is well described in eukaryotes and Escherichia coli. The characterized pathway uses decarboxylated S-adenosylmethionine as the aminopropyl group donor to form spermidine from putrescine by the key enzymes S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase and spermidine synthase. We report here the in vivo characterization of an alternative polyamine biosynthetic pathway from Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of human cholera. The pathway uses aspartate β-semialdehyde as the aminopropyl group donor and consists of a fused protein containing L-2,4-diaminobutyrate aminotransferase and L-2,4-diaminobutyrate decarboxylase, a carboxynorspermidine dehydrogenase (CANSDH), and a carboxynorspermidine decarboxylase (CANSDC). We show that in V. cholerae, this pathway is required for synthesis of both sym-norspermidine and spermidine. Heterologous expression of the V. cholerae pathway in E. coli results in accumulation of the nonnative polyamines diaminopropane and sym-norspermidine. Genetic deletion of the V. cholerae CANSDC led to accumulation of carboxynorspermidine, whereas deletion of either CANSDC or the putative CANSDH led to loss of sym-norspermidine and spermidine. These results allowed unambiguous identification of the gene encoding CANSDH. Furthermore, deletion of either CANSDHorCANSDCled to a 50-60% reduction in growth rate of planktonic cells and severely reduced biofilm formation, which could be rescued by exogenously supplied sym-norspermidine but not spermidine. The pathway was not required for infectivity in a mouse model of V. cholerae infection. Notably, the alternative polyamine biosynthetic pathway is widespread in bacteria and is likely to play a previously unrecognized role in the biology of these organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9899-9907
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 10 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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