What is it about?

Coenzyme M is the smallest known organic cofactor and is most commonly associated with the methane-forming step in all methanogenic archaea. It has also been found in a small number of bacteria capable of the metabolism of small organics. Although many of the steps for CoM biosynthesis in methanogenic archaea have been elucidated, a complete pathway for the biosynthesis of CoM in archaea or bacteria has not been reported. In this paper, we have elucidated the complete coenzyme M biosynthesis pathway in bacteria, revealing distinct chemical steps relative to CoM biosynthesis in methanogenic archaea. The existence of different pathways represents a profound instance of convergent evolution.

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Why is it important?

We have elucidated the completer pathway for coenzyme M biosynthesis in bacteria occurs by a suite of activities that are distinct from those involved in coenzyme M biosynthesis in methanogenic archaea thereby indicating that biosynthesis of this cofactor in bacteria and archaea evolved independently. In bacteria, coenzyme M biosynthesis pathway reveals new reactivities for known enzyme families.

Perspectives

This work really illustrates nicely convergent evolution across domains of life and how contemporary enzymatic pathways are born through adaptations of large enzyme families.

Florence Mus
Washington State University

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This page is a summary of: The pathway for coenzyme M biosynthesis in bacteria, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2207190119.
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