Two radical-dependent mechanisms for anaerobic degradation of the globally abundant organosulfur compound dihydroxypropanesulfonate

Jiayi Liu, Yifeng Wei, Lianyun Lin, Lin Teng, Jinyu Yin, Qiang Lu, Jiawei Chen, Yuchun Zheng, Yaxin Li, Runyao Xu, Weixiang Zhai, Yangping Liu, Yanhong Liu, Peng Cao, Ee Lui Ang, Huimin Zhao, Zhiguang Yuchi, Yan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


2(S)-dihydroxypropanesulfonate (DHPS) is a microbial degradation product of 6-deoxy-6-sulfo-d-glucopyranose (sulfoquinovose), a component of plant sulfolipid with an estimated annual production of 1010 tons. DHPS is also at millimolar levels in highly abundant marine phytoplankton. Its degradation and sulfur recycling by microbes, thus, play important roles in the biogeochemical sulfur cycle. However, DHPS degradative pathways in the anaerobic biosphere are not well understood. Here, we report the discovery and characterization of two O2-sensitive glycyl radical enzymes that use distinct mechanisms for DHPS degradation. DHPS-sulfolyase (HpsG) in sulfate- and sulfite-reducing bacteria catalyzes C–S cleavage to release sulfite for use as a terminal electron acceptor in respiration, producing H2S. DHPS-dehydratase (HpfG), in fermenting bacteria, catalyzes C–O cleavage to generate 3-sulfopropionaldehyde, subsequently reduced by the NADH-dependent sulfopropionaldehyde reductase (HpfD). Both enzymes are present in bacteria from diverse environments including human gut, suggesting the contribution of enzymatic radical chemistry to sulfur flux in various anaerobic niches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15599-155608
Number of pages140010
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 7 2020


  • Dihydroxypropanesulfonate
  • Glycyl radical enzyme
  • Gut bacteria
  • Sulfate- and sulfite-reducing bacteria
  • Sulfoglycolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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