The evolution of metabolic pathways is a major force behind natural selection. In the spotlight of such process lies the structural evolution of the enzymatic machinery responsible for the central energy metabolism. Specifically, glycogen metabolism has emerged to allow organisms to save available environmental surplus of carbon and energy, using dedicated glucose polymers as a storage compartment that can be mobilized at future demand. The origins of such adaptive advantage rely on the acquisition of an enzymatic system for the biosynthesis and degradation of glycogen, along with mechanisms to balance the assembly and disassembly rate of this polysaccharide, in order to store and recover glucose according to cell energy needs. The first step in the classical bacterial glycogen biosynthetic pathway is carried out by the adenosine 5′-diphosphate (ADP)-glucose pyrophosphorylase. This allosteric enzyme synthesizes ADP-glucose and acts as a point of regulation. The second step is carried out by the glycogen synthase, an enzyme that generates linear α-(1→4)-linked glucose chains, whereas the third step catalyzed by the branching enzyme produces α-(1→6)-linked glucan branches in the polymer. Two enzymes facilitate glycogen degradation: glycogen phosphorylase, which functions as an α-(1→4)-depolymerizing enzyme, and the debranching enzyme that catalyzes the removal of α-(1→6)-linked ramifications. In this work, we rationalize the structural basis of glycogen metabolism in bacteria to the light of the current knowledge. We describe and discuss the remarkable progress made in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of substrate recognition and product release, allosteric regulation and catalysis of all those enzymes.

You do not currently have access to this content.