High-Level Production of Amorpha-4,11-Diene, a Precursor of the Antimalarial Agent Artemisinin, in Escherichia coli
Biosynthesis of the isoprenoid precursor isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) proceeds via two distinct pathways. Sequence comparisons and microbiological data suggest that multidrug-resistant strains of gram-positive cocci employ exclusively the mevalonate pathway for IPP biosynthesis. Bacterial mevalonate pathway enzymes therefore offer potential targets for development of active site-directed inhibitors for use as antibiotics. We used the PCR and Enterococcus faecalis genomic DNA to isolate the mvaS gene that encodes 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) synthase, the second enzyme of the mevalonate pathway. mvaS was expressed in Escherichia coli from a pET28 vector with an attached N-terminal histidine tag. The expressed enzyme was purified by affinity chromatography on Ni(2+)-agarose to apparent homogeneity and a specific activity of 10 micromol/min/mg. Analytical ultracentrifugation showed that the enzyme is a dimer (mass, 83.9 kDa; s(20,w), 5.3). Optimal activity occurred in 2.0 mM MgCl(2) at 37(o)C. The DeltaH(a) was 6,000 cal. The pH activity profile, optimum activity at pH 9.8, yielded a pK(a) of 8.8 for a dissociating group, presumably Glu78. The stoichiometry per monomer of acetyl-CoA binding was 1.2 +/- 0.2 and that of covalent acetylation was 0.60 +/- 0.02. The K(m) for the hydrolysis of acetyl-CoA was 10 microM. Coupled conversion of acetyl-CoA to mevalonate was demonstrated by using HMG-CoA synthase and acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase/HMG-CoA reductase from E. faecalis.