The complete amino acid sequence of the hydantoinase from Arthrobacter aurescens DSM 3745 has been derived by automated Edman degradation. This is the fi rst ever reported amino acid sequence of a non-ATP-dependent hydantoinase, which hydrolyzes 5'-monosubstituted hydantoin derivatives L-selectively, A homology search performed in protein and nucleic acid databases retrieved only distantly related proteins. All of these are members of the recently described protein superfamily of amidohydrolases related to ureases (Holm and Sander, Proteins 28: 72-82, 1997). Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the novel hydantoinase forms a new branch separate from other hydantoin cleaving enzymes like dihydropyrimidinases (EC and allantoinases (EC 3,5,2.5), Our results suggests that the enzymes of this protein superfamily have evolved from a common ancestor and therefore are the product of divergent evolution, We show further that the enclosed gene families developed very early in evolution, probably prior to the formation of the three domains, Archaea, Eukarya and Bacteria, Hydantoinases related to ATP-depdent N-methylhydantoinases (EC or 5-oxoprolinases (EC do not belong to this superfamily.

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