In Salmonella enterica, ThiI is a bifunctional enzyme required for the synthesis of both the 4-thiouridine modification in tRNA and the thiazole moiety of thiamine. In 4-thiouridine biosynthesis, ThiI adenylates the tRNA uridine and transfers sulfur from a persulfide formed on the protein. The role of ThiI in thiazole synthesis is not yet well understood. Mutational analysis described here found that ThiI residues required for 4-thiouridine synthesis were not involved in thiazole biosynthesis. The data further showed that the C-terminal rhodanese domain of ThiI was sufficient for thiazole synthesis in vivo. Together, these data support the conclusion that sulfur mobilization in thiazole synthesis is mechanistically distinct from that in 4-thiouridine synthesis and suggest that functional annotation of ThiI in genome sequences should be readdressed. Nutritional studies described here identified an additional cysteine-dependent mechanism for sulfur mobilization to thiazole that did not require ThiI, IscS, SufS, or glutathione. The latter mechanism may provide insights into the chemistry used for sulfur mobilization to thiazole in organisms that do not utilize ThiI.
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