Genetic and Biochemical Reconstitution of Bromoform Biosynthesis in Asparagopsis Lends Insights into Seaweed Reactive Oxygen Species Enzymology

Marine macroalgae, seaweeds, are exceptionally prolific producers of halogenated natural products. Biosynthesis of halogenated molecules in seaweeds is inextricably linked to reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling as hydrogen peroxide serves as a substrate for haloperoxidase enzymes that participate in the construction these halogenated molecules. Here, using red macroalga Asparagopsis taxiformis, a prolific producer of the ozone depleting molecule bromoform, we provide the discovery and biochemical characterization of a ROS-producing NAD­(P)H oxidase from seaweeds. This discovery was enabled by our sequencing of Asparagopsis genomes, in which we find the gene encoding the ROS-producing enzyme to be clustered with genes encoding bromoform-producing haloperoxidases. Biochemical reconstitution of haloperoxidase activities establishes that fatty acid biosynthesis can provide viable hydrocarbon substrates for bromoform production. The ROS production haloperoxidase enzymology that we describe here advances seaweed biology and biochemistry by providing the molecular basis for decades worth of physiological observations in ROS and halogenated natural product biosyntheses.