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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A Streptomyces avermitilis gene encoding a 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvic acid dioxygenase-like protein that directs the production of homogentisic acid and an ochronotic pigment in Escherichia coli.

A 1.5-kb genomic fragment isolated from Streptomyces avermitilis that directs the synthesis of a brown pigment in Escherichia coli was characterized. Since pigment production in recombinant E. coli was enhanced by the addition of tyrosine to the medium, it had been inferred that the cloned DNA might be associated with melanin biosynthesis. Hybridization studies, however, showed that the pigment gene isolated from S. avermitilis was unrelated to the Streptomyces antibioticus melC2 determinant, which is the prototype of melanin genes in Streptomyces spp. Sequence analysis of the 1.5-kb DNA that caused pigment production revealed a single open reading frame encoding a protein of 41.6 kDa (380 amino acids) that resembled several prokaryotic and eukaryotic 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenases (HPDs). When this open reading frame was overexpressed in E. coli, a protein of about 41 kDa was detected. This E. coli clone produced homogentisic acid (HGA), which is the expected product of the oxidation of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate catalyzed by an HPD, and also a brown pigment with characteristics similar to the pigment observed in the urine of alkaptonuric patients. Alkaptonuria is a genetic disease in which inability to metabolize HGA leads to increasing concentrations of this acid in urine, followed by oxidation and polymerization of HGA to an ochronotic pigment. Similarly, the production of ochronotic-like pigment in the recombinant E. coli clone overexpressing the S. avermitilis gene encoding HPD is likely to be due to the spontaneous oxidation and polymerization of the HGA accumulated in the medium by this clone.[1]


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