The biogeochemical sulfur cycle describes how sulfur transits through the mineral, atmospheric, hydrologic and biological domains. Within the biological domain an estimated 10 billion tonnes of the sulfur sugar sulfoquinovose (SQ) is formed annually, an amount commensurate with the amino acids cysteine and methionine . SQ forms the head group of the sulfolipid sulfoquinovosyl diacylglyceride (SQDG), which is produced by essentially all photosynthetic organisms, and plays a role in membrane function of photosynthetic organelles and their associated photoproteins. The biosynthesis of SQ is well-established, yet only recently was the first sulfoglycolytic pathway discovered (in E. coli) capable of degrading this important sugar . In this talk I will provide an overview of our efforts to identify new enzymes as part of this pathway and to use chemical methods to develop a detailed molecular understanding of sulfoglycolysis catalysis [3,4,5,6].
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