Pyrazines are widespread chemical compounds that include pheromones and odors. Herein, a novel mechanism used by Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 to biosynthesize monocyclic pyrazines is reported. Heterologous expression of the papABC genes that synthesize the natural α-amino acid 4-aminophenylalanine (4APhe), together with three adjacent papDEF genes of unknown function, in Escherichia coli resulted in the production of 2,5-dimethyl-3,6-bis(4-aminobenzyl)pyrazine (DMBAP), which comprised two symmetrical aminobenzyl moieties derived from 4APhe. It is found that PapD is a novel amino acid C-acetyltransferase, which decarboxylates and transfers acetyl residues to 4APhe, to generate an α-aminoketone, which spontaneously dehydrates and condenses to give dihydro DMBAP. PapF is a novel oxidase in the amine oxidase superfamily that oxidizes dihydro DMBAP to yield the pyrazine ring of DMBAP. These two enzymes constitute a unique mechanism for synthesizing monocyclic pyrazines and might serve as a novel strategy for the enzymatic synthesis of pyrazine derivatives from natural α-amino acids.
Keywords: amino acids; biosynthesis; nitrogen heterocycles; oxidases; transferases.
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