Haloferax volcanii degrades the pentoses D-xylose and L-arabinose via an oxidative pathway to α-ketoglutarate as an intermediate. The initial dehydrogenases of the pathway, D-xylose dehydrogenase (XDH) and L-arabinose dehydrogenase (L-AraDH) catalyze the NADP+ dependent D-xylose and L-arabinose oxidation. It is shown here that the pentoses are oxidized to the corresponding lactones, D-xylono-γ-lactone and L-arabino-γ-lactone, rather than to the respective sugar acids. A putative lactonase gene, xacC, located in genomic vicinity of XDH and L-AraDH, was found to be transcriptionally upregulated by both D-xylose and L-arabinose mediated by the pentose-specific regulator XacR. The recombinant lactonase catalyzed the hydrolysis of D-xylono-γ-lactone and L-arabino-γ-lactone. This is the first report of a functional lactonase involved in sugar catabolism in the domain of archaea.
Keywords: Haloferax volcanii; archaea; lactonase; oxidative pentose degradation.
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