A new route to l-threo-3-[4-(methylthio)phenylserine], a key intermediate for the synthesis of antibiotics: recombinant low-specificity d-threonine aldolase-catalyzed stereospecific resolution
D-Threonine aldolase is an enzyme that catalyzes the cleavage of D-threonine into glycine and acetaldehyde. Its activity was found in several genera of bacteria such as Arthrobacter, Alcaligenes, Xanthomonas, and Pseudomonas, but not in yeasts or fungi. The enzyme was purified to homogeneity from one strain, Arthrobacter sp. DK-38. The enzyme appeared to consist of a single polypeptide chain with an apparent molecular mass of 51 kDa. This enzyme, as well as L-threonine aldolase, requires pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (pyridoxal-P) as a coenzyme. Unlike other pyridoxal-P enzymes, D-threonine aldolase also requires a divalent cation such as Co2+, Ni2+, Mn2+, or Mg2+ for its catalytic activity. The enzyme completely lost its activity in the absence of either pyridoxal-P or a divalent cation. A divalent cation was also essential for the thermal stability of the enzyme. The metal-free enzyme tends to become thermally unstable, resulting in the irreversible loss of its catalytic activity. The enzyme is strictly D-specific for the alpha-position, whereas it cannot distinguish between threo and erythro forms at the beta-position. Thus, D-threonine and D-allothreonine act as substrates of the enzyme, but their kinetic parameters are different; the Km and Vmax values are 3.81 mM and 38.8 micromol x min(-1) x mg(-1) toward D-threonine, and 14.0 mM and 102 micromol x min(-1) x mg(-1) toward D-allothreonine. respectively. The aldolase reaction is reversible, and the enzyme is therefore able to produce nearly equimolar amounts of D-threonine and D-allothreonine through C-C bond formation between glycine and acetaldehyde. The enzyme also acts, in the same manner, on several other D-beta-hydroxy-alpha-amino acids, including D-beta-phenylserine, D-beta-hydroxy-alpha-aminovaleric acid, D-beta-3,4-dihydroxyphenylserine, and D-beta-3,4-methylenedioxyphenylserine.