Biosynthesis of squalene from farnesyl diphosphate in Bacteria: Three steps catalyzed by three enzymes

Jian Jung Pan, Jose O. Solbiati, Gurusankar Ramamoorthy, Brandan S. Hillerich, Ronald D. Seidel, John E. Cronan, Steven C. Almo, C. Dale Poulter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Squalene (SQ) is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of sterols in eukaryotes and a few bacteria and of hopanoids in bacteria where they promote membrane stability and the formation of lipid rafts in their hosts. The genes for hopanoid biosynthesis are typically located on clusters that consist of four highly conserved genes?hpnC, hpnD, hpnE, and hpnF?for conversion of farnesyl diphosphate (FPP) to hopene or related pentacyclic metabolites. While hpnF is known to encode a squalene cyclase, the functions for hpnC, hpnD, and hpnE are not rigorously established. The hpnC, hpnD, and hpnE genes from Zymomonas mobilis and Rhodopseudomonas palustris were cloned into Escherichia coli, a bacterium that does not contain genes homologous to hpnC, hpnD, and hpnE, and their functions were established in vitro and in vivo. HpnD catalyzes formation of presqualene diphosphate (PSPP) from two molecules of FPP; HpnC converts PSPP to hydroxysqualene (HSQ); and HpnE, a member of the amine oxidoreductase family, reduces HSQ to SQ. Collectively the reactions catalyzed by these three enzymes constitute a new pathway for biosynthesis of SQ in bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-82
Number of pages6
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 27 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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