Formation of the ether lipids archaetidylglycerol and archaetidylethanolamine in Escherichia coli

Antonella Caforio, Samta Jain, Peter Fodran, Melvin Siliakus, Adriaan J. Minnaard, John Van Der Oost, Arnold J.M. Driessen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In archaea, the membrane phospholipids consist of isoprenoid hydrocarbon chains that are ether-linked to a sn-glycerol 1-phosphate backbone. This unique structure is believed to be vital for the adaptation of these micro-organisms to extreme environments, but it also reflects an evolutionary marker that distinguishes archaea from bacteria and eukaryotes. CDP-archaeol is the central precursor for polar head group attachment. We examined various bacterial enzymes involved in the attachment of L-serine and glycerol as polar head groups for their promiscuity in recognizing CDP-archaeol as a substrate. Using a combination of mutated bacterial and archaeal enzymes, archaetidylethanolamine (AE) and archaetidylglycerol (AG) could be produced in vitro using nine purified enzymes while starting from simple building blocks. The ether lipid pathway constituted by a set of archaeal and bacterial enzymes was introduced into Escherichia coli, which resulted in the biosynthesis of AE and AG. This is a further step in the reprogramming of E. coli for ether lipid biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-355
Number of pages13
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Archaea
  • Ether lipid biosynthesis
  • Liquid chromato-graphy-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)
  • Membrane proteins


Dive into the research topics of 'Formation of the ether lipids archaetidylglycerol and archaetidylethanolamine in Escherichia coli'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this