The biosynthetic pathway for myxol-2′ fucoside (myxoxanthophyll) in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002

Joel E. Graham, Donald A. Bryant

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Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002 produces a variety of carotenoids, which comprise predominantly dicylic β-carotene and two dicyclic xanthophylls, zeaxanthin and synechoxanthin. However, this cyanobacterium also produces a monocyclic myxoxanthophyll, which was identified as myxol-2′ fucoside. Compared to the carotenoid glycosides produced by diverse microorganisms, cyanobacterial myxoxanthophyll and closely related compounds are unusual because they are glycosylated on the 2′-OH rather than on the 1′-OH position of the ψ end of the molecule. In this study, the genes encoding two enzymes that modify the ψ end of myxoxanthophyll in Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002 were identified. Mutational and biochemical studies showed that open reading frame SynPCC7002-A2032, renamed cruF, encodes a 1′-hydroxylase and that open reading frame SynPCC7002-A2031, renamed cruG, encodes a 2′-O-glycosyltransferase. The enzymatic activity of CruF was verified by chemical characterization of the carotenoid products synthesized when cruF was expressed in a lycopene-producing strain of Escherichia coli. Database searches showed that homologs of cruF and cruG occur in the genomes of all sequenced cyanobacterial strains that are known to produce myxol or the acylic xanthophyll oscillaxanthin. The genomes of many other bacteria that produce hydroxylated carotenoids but do not contain crtC homologs also contain cruF orthologs. Based upon observable intermediates, a complete biosynthetic pathway for myxoxanthophyll is proposed. This study expands the suite of enzymes available for metabolic engineering of carotenoid biosynthetic pathways for biotechnological applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3292-3300
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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