BioH is an α/β-hydrolase required for synthesis of the pimelate moiety of biotin in diverse bacteria. The bioH gene is found in different genomic contexts. In some cases (e.g., Escherichia coli) the gene is not located within a biotin synthetic operon and its transcription is not coregulated with the other biotin synthesis genes. In other genomes such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa the bioH gene is within a biotin synthesis operon and its transcription is coregulated with the other biotin operon genes. The esterases of pimelate moiety synthesis show remarkable genomic plasticity in that in some biotin operons bioH is replaced by other α/ß hydrolases of diverse sequence. The "wild card" nature of these enzymes led us to compare the paradigm "freestanding" E. coli BioH with the operon-encoded P. aeruginosa BioH. We hypothesized that the operon-encoded BioH might differ in its expression level and/or activity from the freestanding BioH gene. We report this is not the case. The two BioH proteins show remarkably similar hydrolase activities and substrate specificity. Moreover, Pseudomonas aeruginosa BioH is more highly expressed than E. coli BioH. Despite the enzymatic similarities of the two BioH proteins, bioinformatics analysis places the freestanding and operon-encoded BioH proteins into distinct clades.
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