Through the use of genetic, enzymatic, metabolomic, and structural analyses, we have discovered the catabolic pathway for proline betaine, an osmoprotectant, in Paracoccus denitrificans and Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Genetic and enzymatic analyses showed that several of the key enzymes of the hydroxyproline betaine degradation pathway also function in proline betaine degradation. Metabolomic analyses detected each of the metabolic intermediates of the pathway. The proline betaine catabolic pathway was repressed by osmotic stress and cold stress, and a regulatory transcription factor was identified. We also report crystal structure complexes of the P. denitrificans HpbD hydroxyproline betaine epimerase/proline betaine racemase with L-proline betaine and cis-hydroxyproline betaine.
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