Liu K, Xu Y, Zhou NY.
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015 Sep 1;81(17):5753-60. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00975-15. Epub 2015 Jun 12.
In contrast to the well-characterized and more common maleylpyruvate isomerization route of the gentisate pathway, the direct hydrolysis route occurs rarely and remains unsolved. In Pseudomonas alcaligenes NCIMB 9867, two gene clusters, xln and hbz, were previously proposed to be involved in gentisate catabolism, and HbzF was characterized as a maleylpyruvate hydrolase converting maleylpyruvate to maleate and pyruvate. However, the complete degradation pathway of gentisate through direct hydrolysis has not been characterized. In this study, we obtained from the NCIMB culture collection a Pseudomonas alcaligenes spontaneous mutant strain that lacked the xln cluster and designated the mutant strain SponMu. The hbz cluster in strain SponMu was resequenced, revealing the correct location of the stop codon for hbzI and identifying a new gene, hbzG. HbzIJ was demonstrated to be a maleate hydratase consisting of large and small subunits, stoichiometrically converting maleate to enantiomerically pure d-malate. HbzG is a glutathione-dependent maleylpyruvate isomerase, indicating the possible presence of two alternative pathways of maleylpyruvate catabolism. However, the hbzF-disrupted mutant could still grow on gentisate, while disruption of hbzG prevented this ability, indicating that the direct hydrolysis route was not a complete pathway in strain SponMu. Subsequently, a d-malate dehydrogenase gene was introduced into the hbzG-disrupted mutant, and the engineered strain was able to grow on gentisate via the direct hydrolysis route. This fills a gap in our understanding of the direct hydrolysis route of the gentisate pathway and provides an explanation for the high yield of d-malate from maleate by this d-malate dehydrogenase-deficient natural mutant.