Many bacteria employ the nonmevalonate pathway for synthesis of isopentenyl diphosphate, the monomer unit for isoprenoid biosynthesis. However, gram-positive cocci exclusively use the mevalonate pathway, which is essential for their growth (E. I. Wilding et al., J. Bacteriol. 182:4319–4327, 2000). Enzymes of the mevalonate pathway are thus potential targets for drug intervention. Uniquely, the enterococci possess a single open reading frame, mvaE, that appears to encode two enzymes of the mevalonate pathway, acetoacetyl-coenzyme A thiolase and 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase. Western blotting revealed that the mvaE gene product is a single polypeptide in Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, and Enterococcus hirae. The mvaE gene was cloned from E. faecalis and was expressed with an N-terminal His tag in Escherichia coli. The gene product was then purified by nickel affinity chromatography. As predicted, the 86.5-kDa mvaE gene product catalyzed both the acetoacetyl-CoA thiolase and HMG-CoA reductase reactions. Temperature optima, Ha and Km values, and pH optima were determined for both activities. Kinetic studies of acetoacetyl- CoA thiolase implicated a ping-pong mechanism. CoA acted as an inhibitor competitive with acetyl-CoA. A millimolar Ki for a statin drug confirmed that E. faecalis HMG-CoA reductase is a class II enzyme. The oxidoreductant was NADP(H). A role for an active-site histidine during the first redox step of the HMG-CoA, reductase reaction was suggested by the ability of diethylpyrocarbonate to block formation of mevalonate from HMG-CoA, but not from mevaldehyde. Sequence comparisons with other HMG-CoA reductases suggest that the essential active-site histidine is His756. The mvaE gene product represents the first example of an HMG-CoA reductase fused to another enzyme.
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