Plasmid-encoded asp operon confers a proton motive metabolic cycle catalyzed by an aspartate-alanine exchange reaction

Keietsu Abe, Fumito Ohnishi, Kyoko Yagi, Tasuku Nakajima, Takeshi Higuchi, Motoaki Sano, Masayuki Machida, Rafiquel I. Sarker, Peter C. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Tetragenococcus halophila D10 catalyzes the decarboxylation of L-aspartate with nearly stoichiometric release of L-alanine and CO2. This trait is encoded on a 25-kb plasmid, pD1. We found in this plasmid a putative asp operon consisting of two genes, which we designated aspD and aspT, encoding an L-aspartate-β-decarboxylase (AspD) and an aspartate-alanine antiporter (AspT), respectively, and determined the nucleotide sequences. The sequence analysis revealed that the genes of the asp operon in pD1 were in the following order: promoter → aspD → aspT. The deduced amino acid sequence of AspD showed similarity to the sequences of two known L-aspartate-β-decarboxylases from Pseudomonas dacunhae and Alcaligenes faecalis. Hydropathy analyses suggested that the aspT gene product encodes a hydrophobic protein with multiple membrane-spanning regions. The operon was subcloned into the Escherichia coli expression vector pTrc99A, and the two genes were cotranscribed in the resulting plasmid, pTrcAsp. Expression of the asp operon in E. coli coincided with appearance of the capacity to catalyze the decarboxylation of aspartate to alanine. Histidine- tagged AspD (AspDHis) was also expressed in E. coli and purified from cell extracts. The purified AspDHis clearly exhibited activity of L-aspartate-β-decarboxylase. Recombinant AspT was solubilized from E. coli membranes and reconstituted in proteoliposomes. The reconstituted AspT catalyzed self-exchange of aspartate and electrogenic heterologous exchange of aspartate with alanine. Thus, the asp operon confers a proton motive metabolic cycle consisting of the electrogenic aspartate-alanine antiporter and the aspartate decarboxylase, which keeps intracellular levels of alanine, the countersubstrate for aspartate, high.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2906-2913
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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