Thermoacidophilic archaea such as Thermoplasma acidophilum and Sulfolobus solfataricus are known to metabolize D-glucose via the nED (non-phosphorylated Entner–Doudoroff) pathway. In the present study, we identified and characterized a glyceraldehyde dehydrogenase involved in the downstream portion of the nED pathway. This glyceraldehyde dehydrogenase was purified from T. acidophilum cell extracts by sequential chromatography on DEAE-Sepharose, Q-Sepharose, Phenyl-Sepharose and Affi-Gel Blue columns. SDS/PAGE of the purified enzyme showed a molecular mass of approx. 53 kDa, whereas the molecular mass of the native protein was 215 kDa, indicating that glyceraldehyde dehydrogenase is a tetrameric protein. By MALDI–TOF-MS (matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization–time-of-flight MS) peptide fingerprinting of the purified protein, it was found that the gene product of Ta0809 in the T. acidophilum genome database corresponds to the purified glyceraldehyde dehydrogenase. The native enzyme showed the highest activity towards glyceraldehyde, but no activity towards aliphatic or aromatic aldehydes, and no activity when NAD+ was substituted for NADP+. Analysis of the amino acid sequence and enzyme inhibition studies indicated that this glyceraldehyde dehydrogenase belongs to the ALDH (aldehyde dehydrogenase) superfamily. BLAST searches showed that homologues of the Ta0809 protein are not present in the Sulfolobus genome. Possible differences between T. acidophilum (Euryarchaeota) and S. solfataricus (Crenarchaeaota) in terms of the glycolytic pathway are thus expected.

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