Eukaryotic and bacterial gene clusters related to an alternative pathway of nonphosphorylated L-rhamnose metabolism

J Biol Chem. 2008 Jul 18;283(29):20372-82. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M801065200. Epub 2008 May 27.


The Entner-Doudoroff (ED) pathway is a classic central pathway of d-glucose metabolism in all three phylogenetic domains. On the other hand, Archaea and/or bacteria possess several modified versions of the ED pathway, in which nonphosphorylated intermediates are involved. Several fungi, including Pichia stipitis and Debaryomyces hansenii, possess an alternative pathway of L-rhamnose metabolism, which is different from the known bacterial pathway. Gene cluster related to this hypothetical pathway was identified by bioinformatic analysis using the metabolic enzymes involved in analogous sugar pathways to the ED pathway. Furthermore, the homologous gene cluster was found not only in many other fungi but also several bacteria, including Azotobacter vinelandii. Four putative metabolic genes, LRA1-4, were cloned, overexpressed in Escherichia coli, and purified. Substrate specificity and kinetic analysis revealed that nonphosphorylated intermediates related to L-rhamnose are significant active substrates for the purified LRA1-4 proteins. Furthermore, L-2-keto-3-deoxyrhamnonate was structurally identified as both reaction products of dehydration by LRA3 and aldol condensation by LRA4. These results suggested that the LRA1-4 genes encode L-rhamnose 1-dehydrogenase, L-rhamnono-gamma-lactonase, L-rhamnonate dehydratase, and L-KDR aldolase, respectively, by which L-rhamnose is converted into pyruvate and L-lactaldehyde through analogous reaction steps to the ED pathway. There was no evolutionary relationship between L-KDR aldolases from fungi and bacteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Azotobacter vinelandii / genetics
  • Azotobacter vinelandii / metabolism*
  • Carbohydrate Dehydrogenases / chemistry
  • Carbohydrate Dehydrogenases / isolation & purification
  • Carbohydrate Dehydrogenases / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Fructose-Bisphosphate Aldolase / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family / genetics*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Rhamnose / metabolism*
  • Saccharomycetales / genetics
  • Saccharomycetales / metabolism*
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Carbohydrate Dehydrogenases
  • L-rhamnose dehydrogenase
  • Fructose-Bisphosphate Aldolase
  • Rhamnose