Although clustering of genes from the same metabolic pathway is a widespread phenomenon, the evolution of the polysaccharide biosynthetic gene cluster remains poorly understood. To determine the evolution of this pathway, we identified a scattered production pathway of the polysaccharide sanxan by Sphingomonas sanxanigenens NX02, and compared the distribution of genes between sphingan-producing and other Sphingomonadaceae strains. This allowed us to determine how the scattered sanxan pathway developed, and how the polysaccharide gene cluster evolved. Our findings suggested that the evolution of microbial polysaccharide biosynthesis gene clusters is a lengthy cyclic process comprising cluster 1???scatter???cluster 2. The sanxan biosynthetic pathway proved the existence of a dispersive process. We also report the complete genome sequence of NX02, in which we identified many unstable genetic elements and powerful secretion systems. Furthermore, nine enzymes for the formation of activated precursors, four glycosyltransferases, four acyltransferases, and four polymerization and export proteins were identified. These genes were scattered in the NX02 genome, and the positive regulator SpnA of sphingans synthesis could not regulate sanxan production. Finally, we concluded that the evolution of the sanxan pathway was independent. NX02 evolved naturally as a polysaccharide producing strain over a long-time evolution involving gene acquisitions and adaptive mutations.
Journal: Scientific reports