The hyperthermophile Aquifex aeolicus belongs to the deepest branch in the bacterial genealogy. Although it has long been recognized that this unique Gram-negative bacterium carries genes for different steps of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) formation, data on the LPS itself or detailed knowledge of the LPS pathway beyond the first committed steps of lipid A and 3-deoxy-Dmanno-oct-2-ulosonic acid (Kdo) synthesis are still lacking. We now report the functional characterization of the thermostable Kdo transferase WaaA from A. aeolicus and provide evidence that the enzyme is monofunctional. Compositional analysis and mass spectrometry of purified A. aeolicus LPS, showing the incorporation of a single Kdo residue as an integral component of the LPS, implicated a monofunctional Kdo transferase in LPS biosynthesis of A. aeolicus. Further, heterologous expression of the A. aeolicus waaA gene in a newly constructed Escherichia coli ΔwaaA suppressor strain resulted in synthesis of lipid IVA precursors substituted with one Kdo sugar. When highly purified WaaA of A. aeolicus was subjected to in vitro assays using mass spectrometry for detection of the reaction products, the enzyme was found to catalyze the transfer of only a single Kdo residue from CMP-Kdoto differently modified lipid A acceptors. The Kdo transferase was capable of utilizing a broad spectrum of acceptor substrates, whereas surface plasmon resonance studies indicated a high selectivity for the donor substrate.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology