Mechanistic insight into acrylate metabolism and detoxification in marine dimethylsulfoniopropionate-catabolizing bacteria

Peng Wang, Hai-Yan Cao, Xiu-Lan Chen, Chun-Yang Li, Ping-Yi Li, Xi-Ying Zhang, Qi-Long Qin, Jonathan Todd, Yu-Zhong Zhang (Lead Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) cleavage, yielding dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and acrylate, provides vital carbon sources to marine bacteria, is a key component of the global sulfur cycle and effects atmospheric chemistry and potentially climate. Acrylate and its metabolite acryloyl-CoA are toxic if allowed to accumulate within cells. Thus, organisms cleaving DMSP require effective systems for both the utilization and detoxification of acrylate. Here, we examine the mechanism of acrylate utilization and detoxification in Roseobacters. We propose propionate-CoA ligase (PrpE) and acryloyl-CoA reductase (AcuI) as the key enzymes involved and through structural and mutagenesis analyses, provide explanations of their catalytic mechanisms. In most cases, DMSP lyases and DMSP demethylases (DmdAs) have low substrate affinities, but AcuIs have very high substrate affinities, suggesting that an effective detoxification system for acylate catabolism exists in DMSP-catabolizing Roseobacters. This study provides insight on acrylate metabolism and detoxification and a possible explanation for the high Km values that have been noted for some DMSP lyases. Since acrylate/acryloyl-CoA is probably produced by other metabolism, and AcuI and PrpE are conserved in many organisms across all domains of life, the detoxification system is likely relevant to many metabolic processes and environments beyond DMSP catabolism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674–688
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
Early online date9 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • DMSP
  • Biogeochemistry
  • acrylate
  • marine microbiology
  • structural biology

Cite this