A heat-stable dehydroquinase was purified to near homogeneity from a plate-grown suspension of the Gram-negative stomach pathogen Helicobacter pylori, and shown from both its subunit and native molecular masses to be a member of the type II family of dehydroquinases. This was confirmed by N-terminal amino acid sequence data. The gene encoding this activity was isolated following initial identification, by random sequencing of the H. pylori genome, of a 96 bp fragment, the translated sequence of which showed strong identity to a C-terminal region of other type II enzymes. Southern blot analysis of a cosmid library identified several potential clones, one of which complemented an Escherichia coliaroD point mutant strain deficient in host dehydroquinase. The gene encoding the H. pylori type II dehydroquinase (designated aroQ) was sequenced. The translated sequence was identical to the N-terminal sequence obtained directly from the purified protein, and showed strong identity to other members of the type II family of dehydroquinases. The enzyme was readily expressed in E. coli from a plasmid construct from which several milligrams of protein could be isolated, and the molecular mass of the protein was confirmed by electrospray MS. The aroQ gene in H. pylori may function in the central biosynthetic shikimate pathway of this bacterium, thus opening the way for the construction of attenuated strains as potential vaccines as well as offering a new target for selective enzyme inhibition.

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Author notes

The nucleotide sequence data reported have been deposited in the EMBL/GenBank/DDBJ Nucleotide Sequence Databases under the accession no. X98878.