We have developed an experimental model of the whole threonine pathway that allows us to study the production of threonine from aspartate under different conditions. The model consisted of a desalted crude extract of Escherichia coli to which we added the substrates and necessary cofactors of the pathway: aspartate, ATP and NADPH. In this experimental model we measured not only the production of threonine, but also the time dependence of all the intermediate metabolites and of the initial substrates, aspartate, ATP and NADPH. A stoichiometric conversion of precursors into threonine was observed. We have derived conditions in which a quasi steady state can be transiently observed and used to simulate physiological conditions of functioning of the pathway in the cell. The dependence of threonine synthesis and of the aspartate and NADPH consumption on the initial aspartate and threonine concentrations exhibits greater sensitivity to the aspartate concentration than to the threonine concentration in these non-steady-state conditions. A response to threonine is only observed in a narrow concentration range from 0.23 to 2mM.

Abbreviations used: AK, aspartate kinase; aspp, β-aspartyl phosphate; ASA, aspartic β-semialdehyde.

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