1. Isolates representing seven bacterial genera capable of growth on L-threonine medium, and possessing high L-threonine 3-dehydrogenase activity, were examined to elucidate the catabolic route. 2. The results of growth, manometric and enzymic experiments indicated the catabolism of L-threonine by cleavage to acetyl-CoA plus glycine, the glycine being further metabolized via L-serine to pyruvate, in all cases. No evidence was obtained of a role for aminoacetone in threonine catabolism or for the metabolism of glycine by the glycerate pathway. 3. The properties of a number of key enzymes in L-threonine catabolism were investigated. The inducibly formed L-threonine 3-dehydrogenase, purified from Corynebacterium sp. B6 to a specific activity of about 30-35 mumol of product formed/min per mg of protein, exhibited a sigmoid kinetic response to substrate concentration. The half-saturating concentration of substrate, [S]0.5, was 20mM and the Hill constant (h) was 1.50. The Km for NAD+ was 0.8mM. The properties of the enzyme were studied in cell-free extracts of other bacteria. 4. New assays for 2-amino-3-oxobutyrate-CoA ligase were devised. The Km for CoA was determined for the first time and found to be 0.14mM at pH8, for the enzyme from Corynebacterium sp. B6. Evidence was obtained for the efficient linkage of the dehydrogenase and ligase enzymes. Cell-free extracts all possessed high activities of the inducibly formed ligase. 5. L-Serine hydroxymethyltransferase was formed constitutively by all isolates, whereas formation of the ‘glycine-cleavage system’ was generally induced by growth on L-threonine or glycine. The coenzyme requirements of both enzymes were established, and their linked activity in the production of L-serine from glycine was demonstrated by using extracts of Corynebacterium sp. B6. 6. L-Serine dehydratase, purified from Corynebacterium sp. B6 to a specific activity of about 4mumol of product formed/min per mg of protein, was found to exhibit sigmoid kinetics with an [S]0.5 of about 20mM and h identical to 1.4. Similar results were obtained with enzyme preparations from all isolates. The enzyme required Mg2+ for maximum activity, was different from the L-threonine dehydratase also detectable in extracts, and was induced by growth on L-threonine or glycine.
- © 1976 London: The Biochemical Society