Bacterial abl-like genes: production of the archaeal osmolyte N(ε)-acetyl-β-lysine by homologous overexpression of the yodP-kamA genes in Bacillus subtilis

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2011 Aug;91(3):689-97. doi: 10.1007/s00253-011-3301-8. Epub 2011 May 3.


Nε-acetyl-β-lysine is an archaeal compatible solute whose synthesis is mediated by the sequential reactions of the lysine-2,3-aminomutase AblA and the acetyltransferase AblB. α-Lysine serves as the precursor and is converted by AblA to β-lysine, and AblB then acetylates this intermediate to N(ε)-acetyl-β-lysine. The biochemical and biophysical properties of N(ε)-acetyl-β-lysine have so far not been studied intensively due to restrictions in the supply of this compound. A search for ablAB-like genes in the genomes of members of the family Bacillaceae revealed the yodP-kamA genes that encode a AblA-related lysine-2,3-aminomutase and AblB-related putative acetyltransferase. In Bacillus subtilis, the yodP-kamA genes are part of a transcriptional unit (yodT-yodS-yodR-yodQ-yodP-kamA) whose expression is upregulated during sporulation and controlled by the mother-cell-specific transcription factor SigE. N(ε)-acetyl-β-lysine was not detectable in vegetatively growing or osmotically stressed B. subtilis cells, and the deletion of the yodT-yodS-yodR-yodQ-yodP-kamA region had no noticeable effects on growth in rich or minimal media or osmotic stress resistance. However, when we expressed the yodP-kamA genes outside their natural genetic context from an isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside-inducible promoter on a plasmid in B. subtilis, the recombinant strain synthesized considerable amounts (0.28 μmol/mg protein) of N(ε)-acetyl-β-lysine. The data reported here thus open the bottleneck for the large-scale production of N(ε)-acetyl-β-lysine to investigate its properties as a compatible solute.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, abl*
  • Lysine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Lysine / biosynthesis
  • Lysine / genetics
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Multigene Family
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • yoeB protein, Bacillus subtilis
  • N'-acetyl-beta-lysine
  • Lysine