The ybcF Gene of Escherichia coli Encodes a Local Orphan Enzyme, Catabolic Carbamate Kinase

Nam Yeun Kim, Ok Bin Kim

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Escherichia coli can use allantoin as its sole nitrogen source under anaerobic conditions. The ureidoglycolate produced by double release of ammonia from allantoin can flow into either the glyoxylate shunt or further catabolic transcarbamoylation. Although the former pathway is well studied, the genes of the latter (catabolic) pathway are not known. In the catabolic pathway, ureidoglycolate is finally converted to carbamoyl phosphate (CP) and oxamate, and then CP is dephosphorylated to carbamate by a catabolic carbamate kinase (CK), whereby ATP is formed. We identified the ybcF gene in a gene cluster containing fdrA-ylbE-ylbF-ybcF that is located downstream of the allDCE-operon. Reverse transcription PCR of total mRNA confirmed that the genes fdrA, ylbE, ylbF, and ybcF are co-transcribed. Deletion of ybcF caused only a slight increase in metabolic flow into the glyoxylate pathway, probably because CP was used to de novo synthesize pyrimidine and arginine. The activity of the catabolic CK was analyzed using purified YbcF protein. The Vmax is 1.82 U/ mg YbcF for CP and 1.94 U/mg YbcF for ADP, and the KM value is 0.47 mM for CP and 0.43 mM for ADP. With these results, it was experimentally revealed that the ybcF gene of E. coli encodes catabolic CK, which completes anaerobic allantoin degradation through substrate-level phosphorylation. Therefore, we suggest renaming the ybcF gene as allK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527-1536
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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Copyright © 2022 by the authors. Licensee KMB.


  • allantoin
  • carbamoyl phosphate
  • catabolic carbamate kinase
  • ybcF


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