The pathway for coenzyme M biosynthesis in bacteria

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Sep 6;119(36):e2207190119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2207190119. Epub 2022 Aug 29.


Mercaptoethane sulfonate or coenzyme M (CoM) is the smallest known organic cofactor and is most commonly associated with the methane-forming step in all methanogenic archaea but is also associated with the anaerobic oxidation of methane to CO2 in anaerobic methanotrophic archaea and the oxidation of short-chain alkanes in Syntrophoarchaeum species. It has also been found in a small number of bacteria capable of the metabolism of small organics. Although many of the steps for CoM biosynthesis in methanogenic archaea have been elucidated, a complete pathway for the biosynthesis of CoM in archaea or bacteria has not been reported. Here, we present the complete CoM biosynthesis pathway in bacteria, revealing distinct chemical steps relative to CoM biosynthesis in methanogenic archaea. The existence of different pathways represents a profound instance of convergent evolution. The five-step pathway involves the addition of sulfite, the elimination of phosphate, decarboxylation, thiolation, and the reduction to affect the sequential conversion of phosphoenolpyruvate to CoM. The salient features of the pathway demonstrate reactivities for members of large aspartase/fumarase and pyridoxal 5'-phosphate-dependent enzyme families.

Keywords: CoM biosynthesis; PLP-dependent cysteine desulfhydrase; Xanthobacter autotrophicus; aspartase/fumarase superfamily; sulfonate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Archaea / metabolism
  • Bacteria* / metabolism
  • Coenzymes* / biosynthesis
  • Euryarchaeota* / metabolism
  • Mesna* / metabolism
  • Methane / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phosphates / metabolism


  • Coenzymes
  • Phosphates
  • Mesna
  • Methane