Comparative genomics of the methionine metabolism in Gram-positive bacteria: a variety of regulatory systems

Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Jun 23;32(11):3340-53. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkh659. Print 2004.


Regulation of the methionine biosynthesis and transport genes in bacteria is rather diverse and involves two RNA-level regulatory systems and at least three DNA-level systems. In particular, the methionine metabolism in Gram-positive bacteria was known to be controlled by the S-box and T-box mechanisms, both acting on the level of premature termination of transcription. Using comparative analysis of genes, operons and regulatory elements, we described the methionine metabolic pathway and the methionine regulons in available genomes of Gram-positive bacteria. A large number of methionine-specific RNA elements were identified. S-boxes were shown to be widely distributed in Bacillales and Clostridia, whereas methionine-specific T-boxes occurred mostly in Lactobacillales. A candidate binding signal (MET-box) for a hypothetical methionine regulator, possibly MtaR, was identified in Streptococcaceae, the only family in the Bacillus/Clostridium group of Gram-positive bacteria having neither S-boxes, nor methionine-specific T-boxes. Positional analysis of methionine-specific regulatory sites complemented by genome context analysis lead to identification of new members of the methionine regulon, both enzymes and transporters, and reconstruction of the methionine metabolism in various bacterial genomes. In particular, we found candidate transporters for methionine (MetT) and methylthioribose (MtnABC), as well as new enzymes forming the S-adenosylmethionine recycling pathway. Methionine biosynthetic enzymes in various bacterial species are quite variable. In particular, Oceanobacillus iheyensis possibly uses a homolog of the betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase bhmT gene from vertebrates to substitute missing bacterial-type methionine synthases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Transport
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Genomics
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / genetics*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Methionine / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid
  • Regulon
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / metabolism
  • Sodium-Hydrogen Exchangers / classification
  • Streptococcaceae / genetics
  • Streptococcaceae / metabolism


  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid
  • Sodium-Hydrogen Exchangers
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • Methionine