The cobY gene of the archaeon Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1 is required for de novo cobamide synthesis

J Bacteriol. 2003 Jan;185(1):311-6. doi: 10.1128/JB.185.1.311-316.2003.


Genetic and nutritional analyses of mutants of the extremely halophilic archaeon Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1 showed that open reading frame (ORF) Vng1581C encodes a protein with nucleoside triphosphate:adenosylcobinamide-phosphate nucleotidyltransferase enzyme activity. This activity was previously associated with the cobY gene of the methanogenic archaeon Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum strain DeltaH, but no evidence was obtained to demonstrate the direct involvement of this protein in cobamide biosynthesis in archaea. Computer analysis of the Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1 ORF Vng1581C gene and the cobY gene of M. thermoautotrophicum strain DeltaH showed the primary amino acid sequence of the proteins encoded by these two genes to be 35% identical and 48% similar. A strain of Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1 carrying a null allele of the cobY gene was auxotrophic for cobinamide-GDP, a known intermediate of the late steps of cobamide biosynthesis. The auxotrophic requirement for cobinamide-GDP was corrected when a wild-type allele of cobY was introduced into the mutant strain, demonstrating that the lack of cobY function was solely responsible for the observed block in cobamide biosynthesis in this archaeon. The data also show that Halobacterium sp. strain NRC-1 possesses a high-affinity transport system for corrinoids and that this archaeon can synthesize cobamides de novo under aerobic growth conditions. To the best of our knowledge this is the first genetic and nutritional analysis of cobalamin biosynthetic mutants in archaea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism
  • Cobamides / biosynthesis*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Culture Media
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Halobacterium / enzymology*
  • Halobacterium / genetics
  • Halobacterium / growth & development
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / genetics*
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism*


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Cobamides
  • Culture Media
  • Nucleotidyltransferases
  • cobY protein, Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum