Dual biosynthesis pathway for longer-chain polyamines in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Thermococcus kodakarensis

J Bacteriol. 2010 Oct;192(19):4991-5001. doi: 10.1128/JB.00279-10. Epub 2010 Jul 30.


Long-chain and/or branched-chain polyamines are unique polycations found in thermophiles. Cytoplasmic polyamines were analyzed for cells cultivated at various growth temperatures in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Thermococcus kodakarensis. Spermidine [34] and N4-aminopropylspermine [3(3)43] were identified as major polyamines at 60°C, and the amounts of N4-aminopropylspermine [3(3)43] increased as the growth temperature rose. To identify genes involved in polyamine biosynthesis, a gene disruption study was performed. The open reading frames (ORFs) TK0240, TK0474, and TK0882, annotated as agmatine ureohydrolase genes, were disrupted. Only the TK0882 gene disruptant showed a growth defect at 85°C and 93°C, and the growth was partially retrieved by the addition of spermidine. In the TK0882 gene disruptant, agmatine and N1-aminopropylagmatine accumulated in the cytoplasm. Recombinant TK0882 was purified to homogeneity, and its ureohydrolase characteristics were examined. It possessed a 43-fold-higher kcat/Km value for N1-aminopropylagmatine than for agmatine, suggesting that TK0882 functions mainly as N1-aminopropylagmatine ureohydrolase to produce spermidine. TK0147, annotated as spermidine/spermine synthase, was also studied. The TK0147 gene disruptant showed a remarkable growth defect at 85°C and 93°C. Moreover, large amounts of agmatine but smaller amounts of putrescine accumulated in the disruptant. Purified recombinant TK0147 possessed a 78-fold-higher kcat/Km value for agmatine than for putrescine, suggesting that TK0147 functions primarily as an aminopropyl transferase to produce N1-aminopropylagmatine. In T. kodakarensis, spermidine is produced mainly from agmatine via N1-aminopropylagmatine. Furthermore, spermine and N4-aminopropylspermine were detected in the TK0147 disruptant, indicating that TK0147 does not function to produce spermine and long-chain polyamines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Polyamines / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Thermococcus / genetics
  • Thermococcus / metabolism*


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Polyamines