Identification and Characterization of the Biosynthetic Pathway of the Sulfonolipid Capnine

Yinbo Liu, Yifeng Wei, Tong Mei Teh, Dazhi Liu, Yan Zhou, Suwen Zhao, Ee Lui Ang, Huimin Zhao, Yan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Capnine (2-amino-3-hydroxy-15-methylhexadecane-1-sulfonate) and capnoids (N-fatty acylated capnine derivatives) are sulfonolipids present in the outer membrane of gliding bacteria in the phylum Bacteroidetes and play a role in their unique gliding motility. They are structurally similar to sphingolipids and are thought to be biosynthesized via a similar pathway. Here we report the identification and biochemical characterization of the capnine biosynthetic enzymes cysteate synthase (CapA) and cysteate-C-fatty acyltransferase (CapB) from the pathogenic gliding bacterium Capnocytophaga ochracea and NAD(P)H-dependent dehydrocapnine reductase CapC from the avian pathogen Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale. CapA catalyzes the formation of cysteate from O-phospho-l-serine and sulfite, and CapB catalyzes the formation of dehydrocapnine from cysteate and 13-methyl-myristoyl-CoA, followed by reduction by CapC. CapA is closely related to cystathionine-β-synthase but distantly related to the archaeal cysteate synthase. Close homologues of CapA, CapB, and the CapA isozyme archaeal cysteate synthase are present in many Bacteroidetes bacteria, including environmental, pathogenic, and human oral and intestinal microbiome bacteria, suggesting the widespread ability of these bacteria to biosynthesize capnine and related sulfonolipids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2861-2869
Number of pages9
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 20 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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