Non-C5-units terpenoids (norisoprenoids) with an acetonyl group are widely distributed in nature. However, studies on the biosynthesis of norisoprenoids are scarce. Now, the C33 norisoprenoid, (all-E)-farnesylfarnesylacetone, was identified from Bacillus spp. and it was elucidated for the first time that superoxide mediates the cleavage of menaquinones (vitamin K) to form norisoprenoids in saponification treatment. From in vivo experiments using gene-disrupted Bacillus subtilis strains targeted for enzymes responsible for menaquinone biosynthesis and for superoxide dismutase, it was suggested that the non-enzymatic cleavage (autoxidation) of menaquinone with superoxide resulted in norisoprenoid synthesis in Bacillus cells. Furthermore, the bioactive norisoprenoids, farnesylacetone and phytone, were produced in Bacillus cells by this novel synthesis system.
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