A novel operon organization involving the genes for chorismate synthase (aromatic biosynthesis pathway) and ribosomal GTPase center proteins (L11, L1, L10, L12: rplKAJL) in cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803.
Many of the ribosomal protein (RP) genes in both bacterial and chloroplast genomes occur, for reasons not yet understood, in operons that include nonribosomal genes. Here we report such an operon organization in a cyanobacterium (Synechocystis PCC6803) involving the genes for four RPs that are important in the GTPase function of the ribosome and the aroC gene encoding chorismate synthase, a key enzyme in the shikimate pathway for biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids and cell wall components. The Synechocystis aroC encodes a 362-amino-acid residue protein which is 52, 60, and 68% identical to two eubacterial (both 52%), yeast, and a higher plant (Corydalis) chorismate synthase, respectively. The gene was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, and the gene product was shown to cross-react with antibodies to Corydalis chorismate synthase; it also complemented an aroC-lacking E. coli strain. The Synechocystis rpl1 and rpl11 genes encode polypeptides of 237 and 141 amino acid residues, respectively, also with high sequence identities to the corresponding RP sequences from other eubacteria and higher plant chloroplasts. The gene order is shown to be: rpl11-86bp spacer-rpl1-460bp spacer-rpl10-87-bp spacer-rpl12-206bp spacer-aroC. Southern and Northern blot analyses of Synechocystis DNA and RNA, respectively, revealed a single cluster of these genes per genome which is transcribed from a common promoter to an unusually long, approximately 9500-nucleotide transcript. Several constructs of the cyanobacterial aroC and rpl12 genes were made and expressed in E. coli to examine the mechanisms for their very differential expression from a polycistronic mRNA (e.g. four copies L12/ribosome; chorismate synthase, a non-abundant protein). These results present the first biochemical/molecular genetic evidence of shikimate pathway in the cyanobacterial group.