FabQ, a dual-function dehydratase/isomerase, circumvents the last step of the classical fatty acid synthesis cycle.
There are two genes, fabA and fabZ, encoding beta-hydroxyacyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) dehydratases that function in the dissociated, type II fatty acid synthase system of Escherichia coli. We have investigated their roles in fatty acid synthesis by purifying the two proteins and reconstituting cycles of fatty acid synthesis in vitro using five other purified proteins. FabA and FabZ exhibited broad, overlapping chain length specificities. The FabZ dehydratase efficiently catalyzed the dehydration of short chain beta-hydroxyacyl-ACPs and long chain saturated and unsaturated beta-hydroxyacyl-ACPs. FabA was most active on intermediate chain length beta-hydroxyacyl-ACPs and also possessed significant activity toward both short and long chain saturated beta-hydroxyacyl-ACPs. Significantly, FabA was virtually inactive in the dehydration of long chain unsaturated beta-hydroxyacyl-ACP. The introduction of the double bond at the 10-carbon stage of fatty acid synthesis by FabA was only detected in the presence of beta-ketoacyl-ACP synthase I (FabB). A yeast two-hybrid analysis failed to detect an interaction between FabA and FabB, therefore the channeling of intermediates toward unsaturated fatty acid synthesis by FabB was attributed to the affinity of the condensing enzyme for cis-decenoyl-ACP. The broad substrate specificity of FabZ coupled with the inactivity of FabA toward a long chain unsaturated beta-hydroxyacyl-ACP provides a biochemical explanation for the phenotypes of cells with genetically altered levels of the two dehydratases.