Several of the enzymes involved in the conversion of adenosylcobyric acid (AdoCby) to adenosylcobamide (AdoCba) are yet to be identified and characterized in some cobamide (Cba)-producing prokaryotes. Using a bioinformatics approach, we identified the bluE gene (locus tag RSP_0788) of Rhodobacter sphaeroides 2.4.1 as a putative functional homolog of the L-threonine kinase enzyme (PduX, EC 126.96.36.199) of S. enterica. In AdoCba, (R)-1-aminopropan-2-ol O-phosphate (AP-P) links the nucleotide loop to the corrin ring; most known AdoCba producers derive AP-P from L-Thr-O-3-phosphate (L-Thr-P). Here, we show that RsBluE has L-Thr-independent ATPase activity in vivo and in vitro. We used 31 P-NMR spectroscopy to show that RsBluE generates L-Thr-P at the expense of ATP and is unable to use L-Ser as a substrate. BluE from R. sphaeroides or Rhodobacter capsulatus restored AdoCba biosynthesis in S. enterica ΕpduX and R. sphaeroides ΕbluE mutant strains. R. sphaeroides ΕbluE strains exhibited a decreased pigment phenotype that was restored by complementation with BluE. Finally, phylogenetic analyses revealed that bluE was restricted to the genomes of a few Rhodobacterales that appear to have a preference for a specific form of Cba, namely Coᴽ-(ᴽ-5,6-dimethylbenzimidazolyl-Coᵦ-adenosylcobamide (a.k.a. adenosylcobalamin, AdoCbl; coenzyme B12 , CoB12 ).
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