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A novel deep-sea bacterial threonine dehydratase drives cysteine desulfuration and hydrogen sulfide production

By Ning Ma, Yufan Sun, Wen Zhang, Chaomin Sun

Posted 24 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.23.424250

Cysteine desulfuration is one of the main ways for hydrogen sulfide (H2S) generation in cells and is usually conducted by cystathionine {gamma}-lyase. Herein, we describe a newly discovered deep-sea bacterial threonine dehydratase (psTD), which is surprisingly discovered to drive L-cysteine desulfuration. The mechanisms of psTD catalyzing cysteine desulfuration towards H2S production are first clarified in vitro and in vivo through a combination of genetic and biochemical methods. Furthermore, based on the solved structures of psTD and its various mutants, two or three pockets are found in the active site of psTD, and switch states between inward and outward orientation of a key amino acid R77 determine the open or close status of Pocket III for small molecule exchanges, which further facilitates cysteine desulfuration. Our results reveal the functional diversity and structural specificity of psTD towards L-cysteine desulfuration and H2S formation. Given the broad distribution of psTD homologs in different bacteria, we speculate that some threonine dehydratases have evolved a novel function towards cysteine desulfuration, which benefits the producer to utilize cysteine as a sulfur source for better adapting external environments.

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