The Cytophaga hutchinsonii ChTPSP: First Characterized Bifunctional TPS–TPP Protein as Putative Ancestor of All Eukaryotic Trehalose Biosynthesis Proteins
Molecular biology and evolution
The most widely distributed pathway to synthesize trehalose in nature consists of two consecutive enzymatic reactions with a trehalose-6-P (T6P)-synthase (TPS) enzyme, producing the intermediate T6P, and a T6P-phosphatase (TPP) enzyme, which dephosphorylates T6P to produce trehalose and inorganic phosphate. In plants, these enzymes are called Class I and Class II proteins, respectively, with some Class I proteins being active enzymes. The Class II proteins possess both TPS and TPP consensus
... d TPP consensus regions but appear to have lost enzymatic activity during evolution. Plants also contain an extra group of enzymes of small protein size, of which some members have been characterized as functional TPPs. These Class III proteins have less sequence similarity with the Class I and Class II proteins. Here, we characterize for the first time, by using biochemical analysis and yeast growth complementation assays, the existence of a natural TPS-TPP bifunctional enzyme found in the bacterial species Cytophaga hutchinsonii. Through phylogenetic analysis, we show that prokaryotic genes such as ChTPSP might be the ancestor of the eukaryotic trehalose biosynthesis genes. Second, we show that plants have recruited during evolution, possibly by horizontal transfer from bacteria such as Rhodoferax ferrireducens, a new type of small protein, encoding TPP activity, which have been named Class III proteins. RfTPP has very high TPP activity upon expression in yeast. Finally, we demonstrate that TPS gene duplication, the recruitment of the Class III enzymes, and recruitment of an N-terminal regulatory element, which regulates the Class I enzyme activity in higher plants, were initiated very early in eukaryan evolution as the three classes of trehalose biosynthesis genes are already present in the alga Ostreococcus tauri.