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1.  Biosynthesis of Chloro-β-Hydroxytyrosine, a Nonproteinogenic Amino Acid of the Peptidic Backbone of Glycopeptide Antibiotics 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(18):6093-6100.
The role of the putative P450 monooxygenase OxyD and the chlorination time point in the biosynthesis of the glycopeptide antibiotic balhimycin produced by Amycolatopsis balhimycina were analyzed. The oxyD gene is located directly downstream of the bhp (perhydrolase) and bpsD (nonribosomal peptide synthetase D) genes, which are involved in the synthesis of the balhimycin building block β-hydroxytyrosine (β-HT). Reverse transcriptase experiments revealed that bhp, bpsD, and oxyD form an operon. oxyD was inactivated by an in-frame deletion, and the resulting mutant was unable to produce an active compound. Balhimycin production could be restored (i) by complementation with an oxyD gene, (ii) in cross-feeding studies using A. balhimycina JR1 (a null mutant with a block in the biosynthesis pathway of the building blocks hydroxy- and dihydroxyphenylglycine) as an excretor of the missing precursor, and (iii) by supplementation of β-HT in the growth medium. These data demonstrated an essential role of OxyD in the formation pathway of this amino acid. Liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry analysis indicated the biosynthesis of completely chlorinated balhimycin by the oxyD mutant when culture filtrates were supplemented with nonchlorinated β-HT. In contrast, supplementation with 3-chloro-β-HT did not restore balhimycin production. These results indicated that the chlorination time point was later than the stage of free β-HT, most likely during heptapeptide synthesis.
PMCID: PMC515157  PMID: 15342578
2.  Self-Resistance and Cell Wall Composition in the Glycopeptide Producer Amycolatopsis balhimycina▿ 
The prevailing resistance mechanism against glycopeptides in Gram-positive pathogens involves reprogramming the biosynthesis of peptidoglycan precursors, resulting in d-alanyl-d-lactate depsipeptide termini. Amycolatopsis balhimycina produces the vancomycin-like glycopeptide balhimycin and therefore has to protect itself from the action of the glycopeptide. We studied the roles of the accessory resistance gene orthologs vanYb, vnlRb, and vnlSb, which are part of the balhimycin biosynthetic gene cluster (represented by the subscript “b”). The VanYb carboxypeptidase cleaved the terminal d-Ala from peptidoglycan precursors, and its heterologous expression enhanced glycopeptide resistance in Streptomyces coelicolor. The VanRS-like two component system VnlRSb was not involved in glycopeptide resistance or in the expression of the vanHAX glycopeptide resistance genes. Mature A. balhimycina peptidoglycan contained mainly tri- and tetrapeptides, with only traces of the d-Ala-d-Ala-ending pentapeptides that are binding sites for the antibiotic produced. The structure of the peptidoglycan precursor is consistent with the presence of vanHAX genes, which were identified outside the balhimycin synthesis cluster. Both wild-type and non-antibiotic-producing mutant strains synthesized peptidoglycan precursors ending mainly with d-Lac, indicating constitutive synthesis of a resistant cell wall. A. balhimycina could provide a model for an ancestral glycopeptide producer with constitutively expressed resistance genes.
PMCID: PMC3165290  PMID: 21690280
3.  Understanding the physiology of Lactobacillus plantarum at zero growth 
The physiology of Lactobacillus plantarum at extremely low growth rates, through cultivation in retentostats, is much closer to carbon-limited growth than to stationary phase, as evidenced from transcriptomics data, metabolic fluxes, and biomass composition and viability.Using a genome-scale metabolic model and constraint-based computational analyses, amino-acid fluxes—in particular, the rather paradoxical excretion of Asp, Arg, Met, and Ala—could be rationalized as a means to allow extensive metabolism of other amino acids, that is, that of branched-chain and aromatic amino acids.Catabolic products from aromatic amino acids are known to have putative plant-hormone action. The metabolism of amino acids, as well as transcription data, strongly suggested a plant environment-like response in slow-growing L. plantarum, which was confirmed by significant effects of fermented medium on plant root formation.
Natural ecosystems are usually characterized by extremely low and fluctuating nutrient availability. Hence, microorganisms in these environments live a ‘feast-and-famine' existence, with famine the most habitual state. As a result, extremely slow or no growth is the most common state of bacteria, and maintenance processes dominate their life.
In the present study, Lactobacillus plantarum was used as a model microorganism to investigate the physiology of slow growth. Besides fermented foods, this microorganism can be observed in a variety of environmental niches, including plants and lakes, in which nutrient supply is limited. To mimic these conditions, L. plantarum was grown in a glucose-limited chemostat with complete biomass retention (retentostat). During cultivation, biomass progressively accumulated, resulting in steadily decreasing specific substrate availability. Less energy was thus available for growth, and the specific growth rate decreased accordingly, with a final calculated doubling time greater than one year. Detailed measurements of metabolic fluxes were used as constraints in a genome-scale metabolic model to precisely calculate the amount of energy used for net biomass synthesis and for maintenance purposes: at the lowest growth rate investigated (μ=0.0002 h−1), maintenance accounted for 94% of all energy expenses.
Genome-scale metabolic analysis was used in combination with transcriptomics to study the adaptation of L. plantarum to extremely slow growth under limited carbon and energy supply. Importantly, slow growth as investigated here was fundamentally different from the widely studied carbon starvation-induced stationary phase: non-growing cells in retentostat conditions were glucose limited rather than starved, and the transition from a growing to a non-growing state under retentostat conditions was progressive, in contrast with the abrupt transition in batch cultures. These differences were reflected in various aspects of the cell physiology.
The metabolic behavior was remarkably stable during adaptation to slow growth. Although carbon catabolite repression was clearly relieved, as indicated by the upregulation of genes for the utilization of alternative carbohydrates, the metabolism remained largely based on the conversion of glucose to lactate.
Stress resistance mechanisms were also not massively induced. In particular, analysis of the biomass composition—which remained similar to fast-growing cells even under virtually non-growing conditions—and of the gene expression profile, failed to reveal clear stringent or general stress responses, which are generally triggered in glucose-starved cells. The observation that genes involved in growth-associated processes were not downregulated suggested that active synthesis of biomass components (RNA, proteins, and membranes) was required to account for the observed stable biomass and that turnover of macromolecules was high in slow-growing cells. Biomass viability or morphology was also not affected, compared with faster growth conditions. The only typical stress response was the induction of an SOS response—in particular, the upregulation of the two error-prone DNA polymerases—suggesting an increased potential for genetic diversity under adverse conditions. Although diversity was not apparent under the conditions studied here, such mechanisms of increased rates of mutagenesis are likely to have an important role in the adaptation of L. plantarum to slow growth.
A surprising response of L. plantarum during adaptation to slow growth was the production of several amino acids (Arg, Asp, Met, and Ala). A priori, this metabolic behavior seemed inefficient in a context of energy limitation. However, reduced cost analysis using the genome-scale metabolic model indicated that it had a positive effect on energy generation. In-depth analysis of metabolic flux distributions showed that biosynthesis of these amino acids was connected to the catabolism of branched-chain and aromatic amino acids (BCAAs and AAAs), under conditions of limited ammonium efflux. At a fixed ammonium efflux—fixed at the measured value—flux balance analysis indicated that BCAAs and AAAs were expensive to metabolize, because the regeneration of 2-ketoglutarate through glutamate dehydrogenase was limited by ammonium dissipation. Therefore, alternative pathways had to be active to supply the necessary pool of 2-ketoglutarate. At low growth rates, amino-acid production (Arg, Asp, Ala, and Met) accounted for most of the 2-ketoglutarate regeneration. Although it came at the expense of ATP, this metabolic alternative to glutamate dehydrogenase was less energy costly than other solutions such as purine biosynthesis. This is thus an excellent example in which precise, quantitative modeling results in new insights in physiology that intuition would never have achieved. It also shows that flux balance analysis can be used to accurately predict energetically inefficient metabolism, provided the appropriate fluxes are constrained (here, ammonium efflux).
The observation that BCAAs and AAAs were catabolized at the expense of energy was intriguing. However, several end products of these catabolic pathways can serve as signaling molecules for interactions with other organisms. In particular, precursors of plant hormones were predicted as possible end products in the model simulations. Accordingly, the production of compounds interfering with plant root development was demonstrated in slow-growing L. plantarum. The metabolic analysis thus suggested that slow-growing L. plantarum produced plant hormones—or precursors thereof—as a strategy to divert the plant metabolism towards its own interest. In support of this view, transcriptome analysis indicated the upregulation of genes involved in the catabolism of β-glucosides—typical sugars from plant cell wall—as well as a very high induction of six gene clusters encoding cell-surface protein complexes predicted to have a role in the utilization of plant polysaccharides (csc clusters). In such a plant context, limited ammonium production would also make sense, because of the well-documented toxicity of ammonium for plants: production of amino acids could represent an alternative to ammonium excretion while keeping both parties satisfied.
In conclusion, the physiology of L. plantarum at extremely low growth rates, as studied by genome-scale metabolic modeling and transcriptomics, is fundamentally different from that of starvation-induced stationary phase cells. Excitingly, these conditions seem to trigger responses that favor interactions with the environment, more specifically with plants. The reported observations were made in the absence of any plant-derived material, suggesting that this response might constitute a hardwired behavior.
Situations of extremely low substrate availability, resulting in slow growth, are common in natural environments. To mimic these conditions, Lactobacillus plantarum was grown in a carbon-limited retentostat with complete biomass retention. The physiology of extremely slow-growing L. plantarum—as studied by genome-scale modeling and transcriptomics—was fundamentally different from that of stationary-phase cells. Stress resistance mechanisms were not massively induced during transition to extremely slow growth. The energy-generating metabolism was remarkably stable and remained largely based on the conversion of glucose to lactate. The combination of metabolic and transcriptomic analyses revealed behaviors involved in interactions with the environment, more particularly with plants: production of plant hormones or precursors thereof, and preparedness for the utilization of plant-derived substrates. Accordingly, the production of compounds interfering with plant root development was demonstrated in slow-growing L. plantarum. Thus, conditions of slow growth and limited substrate availability seem to trigger a plant environment-like response, even in the absence of plant-derived material, suggesting that this might constitute an intrinsic behavior in L. plantarum.
PMCID: PMC2964122  PMID: 20865006
Lactobacillus plantarum; metabolic modeling; retentostat; slow growth; transcriptome analysis
4.  Proteome-wide systems analysis of a cellulosic biofuel-producing microbe 
We apply mass spectrometry-based ReDi proteomics to quantify the Clostridium phytofermentans proteome during fermentation of cellulosic substrates. ReDi proteomics gives accurate, low-cost quantification of an extra and intracellular microbial proteome. When combined with physiological measurements, these methods form a general systems biology strategy to evaluate the efficiency of cellulosic bioconversion and to identify enzyme targets to engineer for improving this process.C. phytofermentans expressed more than 100 carbohydrate-active enzymes, of which distinct subsets were upregulated on cellulose and hemicellulose. Numerous extracellular enzymes cleave insoluble plant polysaccharides into oligosaccharides, which are transported into the cell to be further degraded by intracellular carbohydratases. Sugars are catabolized by EMP glycolysis incorporating alternative glycolytic enzymes to maximize the ATP yield of anaerobic metabolism.During cellulosic fermentation, cells adhered to the substrate and altered metabolic processes such as upregulation of tryptophan and nicotinamide synthesis proteins and repression of proteins for fatty acid metabolism and cell motility. These diverse metabolic changes highlight how a systems approach can identify novel ways to optimize cellulosic fermentation.
Cellulose is the world's most abundant renewable, biological energy source (Leschine, 1995). Microbial fermentation of cellulosic biomass could sustainably provide enough ethanol for 65% of US ground transportation fuel at current levels (Somerville, 2006). However, cellulose in plant biomass is packaged into a crystalline matrix, making biomass deconstruction a key roadblock to using it as a feedstock (Houghton et al, 2006). A promising strategy to overcome biomass recalcitrance is consolidated bioprocessing (Lynd et al, 2002), which uses microbes such as Clostridium phytofermentans to both secrete enzymes to depolymerize biomass and then ferment the resulting hexose and pentose sugars to a biofuel such as ethanol. The C. phytofermentans genome encodes 161 carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZy) including 108 glycoside hydrolases spread across 39 families (Cantarel et al, 2009), highlighting the elaborate set of enzymes needed to breakdown different cellulosic polysaccharides. Faced with the complexity of metabolizing biomass, systems biology strategies are needed to comprehensively identify which cellulolytic and metabolic enzymes are used to ferment different cellulosic substrates.
This study presents a systems-level analysis of how C. phytofermentans ferments different cellulosic substrates that incorporates quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics of over 2500 proteins. Protein concentrations within each carbon source treatment were calculated by machine learning-supported spectral counting (Absolute Protein EXpression, APEX) (Lu et al, 2007). Protein levels on hemicellulose and cellulose relative to glucose were determined using reductive methylation (Hsu et al, 2003; Boersema et al, 2009), here called ReDi labeling, to chemically incorporate hydrogen or deuterium isotopes at lysines and N-terminal amines of tryptic peptides. We show that ReDi proteomics gives accurate, low-cost quantification of a microbial proteome and can be used to discern extracellular proteins. Further, we combine these quantitative proteomics with detailed measurements of growth, biomass consumption, fermentation product analyses, and electron microscopy. Together, these methods form a general strategy to evaluate the efficiency of cellulosic bioconversion and to identify enzyme targets to engineer for improving this process (Figure 1).
We found that fermentation of cellulosic substrates by C. phytofermentans involves secretion of numerous CAZy as well as proteins for binding of extracellular solutes, proteolysis, and motility. The most highly expressed protein in the proteome is a secreted protein that appears to compose a surface layer to support the cell and anchor cell surface proteins, including some enzymes for plant degradation. Once the secreted CAZy cleave insoluble plant polysaccharides into oligosaccharides, they are taken into the cell to be further degraded by intracellular CAZy, enabling more efficient sugar transport, conserving energy by phosphorolytic cleavage, and ensuring the sugar monomers were not available to competing microbes. Sugars are catabolized by EMP glycolysis incorporating reversible, PPi-dependent glycolytic enzymes, and pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase. The genome encodes seven alcohol dehydrogenases, among which two iron-dependent enzymes are highly expressed and likely facilitate the high ethanol yields. Growth on cellulose also resulted in indirect changes such as increased tryptophan and nicotinamide synthesis and repression of fatty acid synthesis. We distilled the data into a model showing the highly expressed enzymes enabling efficient cellulosic fermentation by C. phytofermentans (Figure 7). Collectively, these data help understand how bacteria recycle plant biomass works towards enabling the use of plant biomass as a low-cost chemical feedstock.
Fermentation of plant biomass by microbes like Clostridium phytofermentans recycles carbon globally and can make biofuels from inedible feedstocks. We analyzed C. phytofermentans fermenting cellulosic substrates by integrating quantitative mass spectrometry of more than 2500 proteins with measurements of growth, enzyme activities, fermentation products, and electron microscopy. Absolute protein concentrations were estimated using Absolute Protein EXpression (APEX); relative changes between treatments were quantified with chemical stable isotope labeling by reductive dimethylation (ReDi). We identified the different combinations of carbohydratases used to degrade cellulose and hemicellulose, many of which were secreted based on quantification of supernatant proteins, as well as the repertoires of glycolytic enzymes and alcohol dehydrogenases (ADHs) enabling ethanol production at near maximal yields. Growth on cellulose also resulted in diverse changes such as increased expression of tryptophan synthesis proteins and repression of proteins for fatty acid metabolism and cell motility. This study gives a systems-level understanding of how this microbe ferments biomass and provides a rational, empirical basis to identify engineering targets for industrial cellulosic fermentation.
PMCID: PMC3049413  PMID: 21245846
bioenergy; clostridium; proteomics
5.  Use of chemostat cultures mimicking different phases of wine fermentations as a tool for quantitative physiological analysis 
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the most relevant yeast species conducting the alcoholic fermentation that takes place during winemaking. Although the physiology of this model organism has been extensively studied, systematic quantitative physiology studies of this yeast under winemaking conditions are still scarce, thus limiting the understanding of fermentative metabolism of wine yeast strains and the systematic description, modelling and prediction of fermentation processes. In this study, we implemented and validated the use of chemostat cultures as a tool to simulate different stages of a standard wine fermentation, thereby allowing to implement metabolic flux analyses describing the sequence of metabolic states of S. cerevisae along the wine fermentation.
Chemostat cultures mimicking the different stages of standard wine fermentations of S. cerevisiae EC1118 were performed using a synthetic must and strict anaerobic conditions. The simulated stages corresponded to the onset of the exponential growth phase, late exponential growth phase and cells just entering stationary phase, at dilution rates of 0.27, 0.04, 0.007 h−1, respectively. Notably, measured substrate uptake and product formation rates at each steady state condition were generally within the range of corresponding conversion rates estimated during the different batch fermentation stages.
Moreover, chemostat data were further used for metabolic flux analysis, where biomass composition data for each condition was considered in the stoichiometric model. Metabolic flux distributions were coherent with previous analyses based on batch cultivations data and the pseudo-steady state assumption.
Steady state conditions obtained in chemostat cultures reflect the environmental conditions and physiological states of S. cerevisiae corresponding to the different growth stages of a typical batch wine fermentation, thereby showing the potential of this experimental approach to systematically study the effect of environmental relevant factors such as temperature, sugar concentration, C/N ratio or (micro) oxygenation on the fermentative metabolism of wine yeast strains.
PMCID: PMC4070652  PMID: 24928139
6.  Phosphate-Controlled Regulator for the Biosynthesis of the Dalbavancin Precursor A40926▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(22):8120-8129.
The actinomycete Nonomuraea sp. strain ATCC 39727 produces the glycopeptide A40926, the precursor of the novel antibiotic dalbavancin. Previous studies have shown that phosphate limitation results in enhanced A40926 production. The A40926 biosynthetic gene (dbv) cluster, which consists of 37 genes, encodes two putative regulators, Dbv3 and Dbv4, as well as the response regulator (Dbv6) and the sensor-kinase (Dbv22) of a putative two-component system. Reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) and real-time RT-PCR analysis revealed that the dbv14-dbv8 and the dbv30-dbv35 operons, as well as dbv4, were negatively influenced by phosphate. Dbv4 shows a putative helix-turn-helix DNA-binding motif and shares sequence similarity with StrR, the transcriptional activator of streptomycin biosynthesis in Streptomyces griseus. Dbv4 was expressed in Escherichia coli as an N-terminal His6-tagged protein. The purified protein bound the dbv14 and dbv30 upstream regions but not the region preceding dbv4. Bbr, a Dbv4 ortholog from the gene cluster for the synthesis of the glycopeptide balhimycin, also bound to the dbv14 and dbv30 upstream regions, while Dbv4 bound appropriate regions from the balhimycin cluster. Our results provide new insights into the regulation of glycopeptide antibiotics, indicating that the phosphate-controlled regulator Dbv4 governs two key steps in A40926 biosynthesis: the biosynthesis of the nonproteinogenic amino acid 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine and critical tailoring reactions on the heptapeptide backbone.
PMCID: PMC2168674  PMID: 17873036
7.  Functional characterization of a Penicillium chrysogenum mutanase gene induced upon co-cultivation with Bacillus subtilis 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:114.
Microbial gene expression is strongly influenced by environmental growth conditions. Comparison of gene expression under different conditions is frequently used for functional analysis and to unravel regulatory networks, however, gene expression responses to co-cultivation with other microorganisms, a common occurrence in nature, is rarely studied under laboratory conditions. To explore cellular responses of the antibiotic-producing fungus Penicillium chrysogenum to prokaryotes, the present study investigates its transcriptional responses during co-cultivation with Bacillus subtilis.
Steady-state glucose-limited chemostats of P. chrysogenum grown under penillicin-non-producing conditions were inoculated with B. subtilis. Physiological and transcriptional responses of P. chrysogenum in the resulting mixed culture were monitored over 72 h. Under these conditions, B. subtilis outcompeted P. chrysogenum, as reflected by a three-fold increase of the B. subtilis population size and a two-fold reduction of the P. chrysogenum biomass concentration. Genes involved in the penicillin pathway and in synthesis of the penicillin precursors and side-chain were unresponsive to the presence of B. subtilis. Moreover, Penicillium polyketide synthase and nonribosomal peptide synthase genes were either not expressed or down-regulated. Among the highly responsive genes, two putative α-1,3 endoglucanase (mutanase) genes viz Pc12g07500 and Pc12g13330 were upregulated by more than 15-fold and 8-fold, respectively. Measurement of enzyme activity in the supernatant of mixed culture confirmed that the co-cultivation with B. subtilis induced mutanase production. Mutanase activity was neither observed in pure cultures of P. chrysogenum or B. subtilis, nor during exposure of P. chrysogenum to B. subtilis culture supernatants or heat-inactivated B. subtilis cells. However, mutanase production was observed in cultures of P. chrysogenum exposed to filter-sterilized supernatants of mixed cultures of P. chrysogenum and B. subtilis. Heterologous expression of Pc12g07500 and Pc12g13330 genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae confirmed that Pc12g07500 encoded an active α-1,3 endoglucanase.
Time-course transcriptional profiling of P. chrysogenum revealed differentially expressed genes during co-cultivation with B. subtilis. Penicillin production was not induced under these conditions. However, induction of a newly characterized P. chrysogenum gene encoding α-1,3 endoglucanase may enhance the efficacy of fungal antibiotics by degrading bacterial exopolysaccharides.
PMCID: PMC4077275  PMID: 24884713
Time-course transcriptional analysis; Mixed culture; Chemostat-based transcriptomics; Mutanase; Heterologous expression; Penicillium chrysogenum; Bacillus subtilis
8.  Identification and Analysis of the Balhimycin Biosynthetic Gene Cluster and Its Use for Manipulating Glycopeptide Biosynthesis in Amycolatopsis mediterranei DSM5908 
Seven complete genes and one incomplete gene for the biosynthesis of the glycopeptide antibiotic balhimycin were isolated from the producer, Amycolatopsis mediterranei DSM5908, by a reverse-cloning approach and characterized. Using oligonucleotides derived from glycosyltransferase sequences, a 900-bp glycosyltransferase gene fragment was amplified and used to identify a DNA fragment of 9,882 bp. Of the identified open reading frames, three (oxyA to -C) showed significant sequence similarities to cytochrome P450 monooxygenases and one (bhaA) showed similarities to halogenase, and the genes bgtfA to -C showed similarities to glycosyltransferases. Glycopeptide biosynthetic mutants were created by gene inactivation experiments eliminating oxygenase and glycosyltransferase functions. Inactivation of the oxygenase gene(s) resulted in a balhimycin mutant (SP1-1) which was not able to synthesize an antibiotically active compound. Structural analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, fragmentation studies, and amino acid analysis demonstrated that these oxygenases are involved in the coupling of the aromatic side chains of the unusual heptapeptide. Mutant strain HD1, created by inactivation of the glycosyltransferase gene bgtfB, produced at least four different compounds which were not glycosylated but still antibiotically active.
PMCID: PMC89325  PMID: 10390204
9.  Degeneration of penicillin production in ethanol-limited chemostat cultivations of Penicillium chrysogenum: A systems biology approach 
BMC Systems Biology  2011;5:132.
In microbial production of non-catabolic products such as antibiotics a loss of production capacity upon long-term cultivation (for example chemostat), a phenomenon called strain degeneration, is often observed. In this study a systems biology approach, monitoring changes from gene to produced flux, was used to study degeneration of penicillin production in a high producing Penicillium chrysogenum strain during prolonged ethanol-limited chemostat cultivations.
During these cultivations, the biomass specific penicillin production rate decreased more than 10-fold in less than 22 generations. No evidence was obtained for a decrease of the copy number of the penicillin gene cluster, nor a significant down regulation of the expression of the penicillin biosynthesis genes. However, a strong down regulation of the biosynthesis pathway of cysteine, one of the precursors of penicillin, was observed. Furthermore the protein levels of the penicillin pathway enzymes L-α-(δ-aminoadipyl)-L-α-cystenyl-D-α-valine synthetase (ACVS) and isopenicillin-N synthase (IPNS), decreased significantly. Re-cultivation of fully degenerated cells in unlimited batch culture and subsequent C-limited chemostats did only result in a slight recovery of penicillin production.
Our findings indicate that the observed degeneration is attributed to a significant decrease of the levels of the first two enzymes of the penicillin biosynthesis pathway, ACVS and IPNS. This decrease is not caused by genetic instability of the penicillin amplicon, neither by down regulation of the penicillin biosynthesis pathway. Furthermore no indications were obtained for degradation of these enzymes as a result of autophagy. Possible causes for the decreased enzyme levels could be a decrease of the translation efficiency of ACVS and IPNS during degeneration, or the presence of a culture variant impaired in the biosynthesis of functional proteins of these enzymes, which outcompeted the high producing part of the population.
PMCID: PMC3224390  PMID: 21854586
10.  Metabolic regulation of Escherichia coli and its phoB and phoR genes knockout mutants under phosphate and nitrogen limitations as well as at acidic condition 
The phosphorus compounds serve as major building blocks of many biomolecules, and have important roles in signal transduction. The phosphate is involved in many biochemical reactions by the transfer of phosphoryl groups. All living cells sophisticatedly regulate the phosphate uptake, and survive even under phosphate-limiting condition, and thus phosphate metabolism is closely related to the diverse metabolism including energy and central carbon metabolism. In particular, phosphorylation may play important roles in the metabolic regulation at acidic condition and nitrogen limiting condition, which typically appears at the late growth phase in the batch culture. Moreover, phosphate starvation is a relatively inexpensive means of gene induction in practice, and the phoA promoter has been used for overexpression of heterologous genes. A better understanding of phosphate regulation would allow for optimization of such processes.
The effect of phosphate (P) concentration on the metabolism in Escherichia coli was investigated in terms of fermentation characteristics and gene transcript levels for the aerobic continuous culture at the dilution rate of 0.2 h-1. The result indicates that the specific glucose consumption rate and the specific acetate production rate significantly increased, while the cell concentration decreased at low P concentration (10% of the M9 medium). The increase in the specific glucose uptake rate may be due to ATP demand caused by limited ATP production under P-limitation. The lower cell concentration was also caused by less ATP production. The less ATP production by H+-ATPase may have caused less cytochrome reaction affecting in quinone pool, and caused up-regulation of ArcA/B, which repressed TCA cycle genes and caused more acetate production. In the case of phoB mutant (and also phoR mutant), the fermentation characteristics were less affected by P-limitation as compared to the wild type where the PhoB regulated genes were down-regulated, while phoR and phoU changed little. The phoR gene knockout caused phoB gene to be down-regulated as well as PhoB regulated genes, while phoU and phoM changed little. The effect of pH together with lower P concentration on the metabolic regulation was also investigated. In accordance with up-regulation of arcA gene expression, the expressions of the TCA cycle genes such as sdhC and mdh were down-regulated at acidic condition. The gene expression of rpoS was up-regulated, and the expression of gadA was up-regulated at pH 6.0. In accordance with this, PhoB regulated genes were up-regulated in the wild type under P-rich and P-limited conditions at pH 6.0 as compared to those at pH 7.0. Moreover, the effect of nitrogen limitation on the metabolic regulation was investigated, where the result indicates that phoB gene was up-regulated, and PhoB regulated genes were also up-regulated under N-limitation, as well as nitrogen-regulated genes.
The present result shows the complicated nature of the metabolic regulation for the fermentation characteristics upon phosphate limitation, acidic condition, and nitrogen limitation based on the transcript levels of selected genes. The result implies that the regulations under phosphate limitation, acidic condition, and nitrogen limitation, which occur typically at the late growth phase of the batch culture, are interconnected through RpoS and RpoD together with Pho genes.
PMCID: PMC3129296  PMID: 21599905
phoB gene knockout; phoR gene knockout; phosphate limitation; pH; nitrogen limitation
11.  Quantitative Physiology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae at Near-Zero Specific Growth Rates ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(17):5607-5614.
Growth at near-zero specific growth rates is a largely unexplored area of yeast physiology. To investigate the physiology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae under these conditions, the effluent removal pipe of anaerobic, glucose-limited chemostat culture (dilution rate, 0.025 h−1) was fitted with a 0.22-μm-pore-size polypropylene filter unit. This setup enabled prolonged cultivation with complete cell retention. After 22 days of cultivation, specific growth rates had decreased below 0.001 h−1 (doubling time of >700 h). Over this period, viability of the retentostat cultures decreased to ca. 80%. The viable biomass concentration in the retentostats could be accurately predicted by a maintenance coefficient of 0.50 mmol of glucose g−1 of biomass h−1 calculated from anaerobic, glucose-limited chemostat cultures grown at dilution rates of 0.025 to 0.20 h−1. This indicated that, in contrast to the situation in several prokaryotes, maintenance energy requirements in S. cerevisiae do not substantially change at near-zero specific growth rates. After 22 days of retentostat cultivation, glucose metabolism was predominantly geared toward alcoholic fermentation to meet maintenance energy requirements. The strict correlation between glycerol production and biomass formation observed at higher specific growth rates was not maintained at the near-zero growth rates reached in the retentostat cultures. In addition to glycerol, the organic acids acetate, d-lactate, and succinate were produced at low rates during prolonged retentostat cultivation. This study identifies robustness and by-product formation as key issues in attempts to uncouple growth and product formation in S. cerevisiae.
PMCID: PMC2737911  PMID: 19592533
12.  Physiological and Proteomic Analysis of Escherichia coli Iron-Limited Chemostat Growth 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(15):2748-2761.
Iron bioavailability is a major limiter of bacterial growth in mammalian host tissue and thus represents an important area of study. Escherichia coli K-12 metabolism was studied at four levels of iron limitation in chemostats using physiological and proteomic analyses. The data documented an E. coli acclimation gradient where progressively more severe iron scarcity resulted in a larger percentage of substrate carbon being directed into an overflow metabolism accompanied by a decrease in biomass yield on glucose. Acetate was the primary secreted organic by-product for moderate levels of iron limitation, but as stress increased, the metabolism shifted to secrete primarily lactate (∼70% of catabolized glucose carbon). Proteomic analysis reinforced the physiological data and quantified relative increases in glycolysis enzyme abundance and decreases in tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzyme abundance with increasing iron limitation stress. The combined data indicated that E. coli responds to limiting iron by investing the scarce resource in essential enzymes, at the cost of catabolic efficiency (i.e., downregulating high-ATP-yielding pathways containing enzymes with large iron requirements, like the TCA cycle). Acclimation to iron-limited growth was contrasted experimentally with acclimation to glucose-limited growth to identify both general and nutrient-specific acclimation strategies. While the iron-limited cultures maximized biomass yields on iron and increased expression of iron acquisition strategies, the glucose-limited cultures maximized biomass yields on glucose and increased expression of carbon acquisition strategies. This study quantified ecologically competitive acclimations to nutrient limitations, yielding knowledge essential for understanding medically relevant bacterial responses to host and to developing intervention strategies.
PMCID: PMC4135680  PMID: 24837288
13.  Large-scale 13C-flux analysis reveals distinct transcriptional control of respiratory and fermentative metabolism in Escherichia coli 
The authors analyze the role transcription plays in regulating bacterial metabolic flux. Of 91 transcriptional regulators studied, 2/3 affect absolute fluxes, but only a small number of regulators control the partitioning of flux between different metabolic pathways.
In contrast to the canonical respiro-fermentative glucose metabolism, fully respiratory galactose metabolism depends exclusively on the PEP-glyoxylate cycle.Of 91 transcription factors, 2/3 affect absolute fluxes, but only one controls the distribution of fluxes on galactose and nine on glucose.Transcriptional control of hexose flux distributions is confined to the acetyl-CoA branch point.The PEP-glyoxylate cycle is controlled by cAMP-Crp in a hexose uptake rate-dependent manner.
Focusing on central carbon metabolism of Escherichia coli, we aim here to systematically identify transcriptional regulators that control the distribution of metabolic fluxes during aerobic growth on hexoses. To assess the condition dependence of transcriptional control of flux, we selected glucose and galactose as two substrates that are highly similar, yet lead to distinct growth rates (Soupene et al, 2003), overall metabolic rates (De Anda et al, 2006; Samir El et al, 2009) and levels of catabolite repression (Hogema et al, 1998; Bettenbrock et al, 2007).
Experimentally determined fluxes (Fischer and Sauer, 2003a) during growth on glucose and galactose reveal two distinct metabolic states. On glucose, high metabolic rates lead to high overflow metabolism and respiratory fluxes through the TCA cycle. On galactose, in contrast, metabolism was much slower without overflow metabolism and respiratory fluxes exclusively through the PEP-glyoxylate cycle (Fischer and Sauer, 2003b).
To determine which transcriptional events controlled these two distinct metabolic states, we determined intracellular fluxes in 91 transcription factor mutants. These genetic perturbations primarily affected absolute fluxes but not the distribution of fluxes. The distribution of flux between glycolysis and pentose–phosphate pathway in upper metabolism, e.g., remained constant in all mutants under all conditions. Transcriptional control of the flux distribution was exclusively seen at the acetyl-CoA branch point. On glucose, nine transcription factors controlled the distribution of fluxes at this branch point, five of which (ArcA, IHFA, IHFB, PdhR, Fur) did so presumably directly through their known targets in TCA cycle and/or respiration. Without known targets in the relevant pathways, the remaining four transcription factors (GlpR, QseB, HdfR, GlcC) may act either indirectly or directly through unknown targets. On galactose, transcriptional control focused exclusively on the PEP-glyoxylate cycle. While deletion of six transcription factors (Cra, Crp, IHFA, IHFB, Mlc, NagC) abolished or reduced the PEP-glyoxylate cycle flux, we demonstrate by substrate-limited chemostat experiments, derepression of galactose uptake and show by metabolomics that five of these transcription factors act indirectly through increased cAMP concentrations that allosterically activate Crp, the only direct transcription factors that controls the PEP-glyoxylate cycle (Nanchen et al, 2008).
Overall, our absolute flux data demonstrate that control of flux splitting during growth on hexoses was confined to the acetyl-CoA branch point in E. coli. Of the 36 transcription factors known to target genes in pathways that diverge from the acetyl-CoA branch point, only one transcription factor on galactose and five plus potentially four others on glucose showed altered flux splitting. The primary focus of steady state transcriptional control on the acetyl-CoA branch point, and thus the metabolic decision between the energetically efficient respiration and the less efficient but more rapid fermentation, was recently also demonstrated with only relative flux data for Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Fendt et al, 2010).
In contrast to glucose-grown Bacillus subtilis (Fischer et al, 2005), for batch glucose-grown E. coli, none of the investigated transcription factor mutants exhibited improved biomass productivity. However, the mutants Cra, IHF A, IHF B and NagC with increased uptake rates grew much faster at almost unaltered biomass yields. As the removal of the glucose PTS-based repression with a Crr mutant also resulted in increased galactose uptake, we provide evidence that E. coli actively represses its galactose uptake at the expense of otherwise possible rapid growth.
Despite our increasing topological knowledge on regulation networks in model bacteria, it is largely unknown which of the many co-occurring regulatory events actually control metabolic function and the distribution of intracellular fluxes. Here, we unravel condition-dependent transcriptional control of Escherichia coli metabolism by large-scale 13C-flux analysis in 91 transcriptional regulator mutants on glucose and galactose. In contrast to the canonical respiro-fermentative glucose metabolism, fully respiratory galactose metabolism depends exclusively on the phosphoenol-pyruvate (PEP)-glyoxylate cycle. While 2/3 of the regulators directly or indirectly affected absolute flux rates, the partitioning between different pathways remained largely stable with transcriptional control focusing primarily on the acetyl-CoA branch point. Flux distribution control was achieved by nine transcription factors on glucose, including ArcA, Fur, PdhR, IHF A and IHF B, but was exclusively mediated by the cAMP-dependent Crp regulation of the PEP-glyoxylate cycle flux on galactose. Five further transcription factors affected this flux only indirectly through cAMP and Crp by increasing the galactose uptake rate. Thus, E. coli actively limits its galactose catabolism at the expense of otherwise possible faster growth.
PMCID: PMC3094070  PMID: 21451587
central metabolism; fermentative growth; gene regulatory networks; respiratory growth; transcriptional regulation
14.  Directed Evolution of Pyruvate Decarboxylase-Negative Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Yielding a C2-Independent, Glucose-Tolerant, and Pyruvate-Hyperproducing Yeast 
The absence of alcoholic fermentation makes pyruvate decarboxylase-negative (Pdc−) strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae an interesting platform for further metabolic engineering of central metabolism. However, Pdc− S. cerevisiae strains have two growth defects: (i) growth on synthetic medium in glucose-limited chemostat cultures requires the addition of small amounts of ethanol or acetate and (ii) even in the presence of a C2 compound, these strains cannot grow in batch cultures on synthetic medium with glucose. We used two subsequent phenotypic selection strategies to obtain a Pdc− strain without these growth defects. An acetate-independent Pdc− mutant was obtained via (otherwise) glucose-limited chemostat cultivation by progressively lowering the acetate content in the feed. Transcriptome analysis did not reveal the mechanisms behind the C2 independence. Further selection for glucose tolerance in shake flasks resulted in a Pdc− S. cerevisiae mutant (TAM) that could grow in batch cultures (μmax = 0.20 h−1) on synthetic medium, with glucose as the sole carbon source. Although the exact molecular mechanisms underlying the glucose-tolerant phenotype were not resolved, transcriptome analysis of the TAM strain revealed increased transcript levels of many glucose-repressible genes relative to the isogenic wild type in nitrogen-limited chemostat cultures with excess glucose. In pH-controlled aerobic batch cultures, the TAM strain produced large amounts of pyruvate. By repeated glucose feeding, a pyruvate concentration of 135 g liter−1 was obtained, with a specific pyruvate production rate of 6 to 7 mmol g of biomass−1 h−1 during the exponential-growth phase and an overall yield of 0.54 g of pyruvate g of glucose−1.
PMCID: PMC321313  PMID: 14711638
15.  Chemostat cultivation as a tool for studies on sugar transport in yeasts. 
Microbiological Reviews  1994;58(4):616-630.
Chemostat cultivation enables investigations into the effects of individual environmental parameters on sugar transport in yeasts. Various means are available to manipulate the specific rate of sugar uptake (qs) in sugar-limited chemostat cultures. A straightforward way to manipulate qs is variation of the dilution rate, which, in substrate-limited chemostat cultures, is equal to the specific growth rate. Alternatively, qs can be varied independently of the growth rate by mixed-substrate cultivation or by variation of the biomass yield on sugar. The latter can be achieved, for example, by addition of nonmetabolizable weak acids to the growth medium or by variation of the oxygen supply. Such controlled manipulation of metabolic fluxes cannot be achieved in batch cultures, in which various parameters that are essential for the kinetics of sugar transport cannot be controlled. In sugar-limited chemostat cultures, yeasts adapt their sugar transport systems to cope with the low residual sugar concentrations, which are often in the micromolar range. Under the conditions, yeasts with high-affinity proton symport carriers have a competitive advantage over yeasts that transport sugars via facilitated-diffusion carriers. Chemostat cultivation offers unique possibilities to study the energetic consequences of sugar transport in growing cells. For example, anaerobic, sugar-limited chemostat cultivation has been used to quantify the energy requirement for maltose-proton symport in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Controlled variation of growth conditions in chemostat cultures can be used to study the differential expression of genes involved in sugar transport and as such can make an important contribution to the ongoing studies on the molecular biology of sugar transport in yeasts.
PMCID: PMC372984  PMID: 7854249
16.  Economics of membrane occupancy and respiro-fermentation 
The authors propose that prokaryotic metabolism is fundamentally constrained by the cytoplasmic membrane surface area available for protein expression, and show that this constraint can explain previously puzzling physiological phenomena, including respiro-fermentation.
We propose that prokaryotic cellular metabolism is fundamentally constrained by the finite cytoplasmic membrane surface area available for protein expression.A metabolic model of Escherichia coli updated to include a cytoplasmic membrane constraint is capable of predicting a variety of puzzling phenomena in this organism, including the respiro-fermentation phenomenon.Because the surface area to volume ratio is directly related to the morphology of the cell, this constraint provides a direct link between prokaryotic morphology and physiology.The potential relevance of this constraint to eukaryotes is discussed.
Many heterotrophs can produce ATP through both respiratory and fermentative pathways, allowing them to survive with or without oxygen. Since the molar ATP yield (molar ATP yield: mole of ATP produced/mole of substrate consumed) from respiration is about 15-fold higher than that from fermentation, ATP production via respiration is more efficient. Surprisingly, at high catabolic rate, many facultative aerobic organisms employ fermentative pathways simultaneously with respiration, even in the presence of abundant oxygen to produce ATP (Pfeiffer et al, 2001; Vemuri et al, 2006; Molenaar et al, 2009). This leads to an observable tradeoff between the ATP yield and the catabolic rate (Pfeiffer et al, 2001; Vemuri et al, 2006). This respiro-fermentation physiology is commonly observed in microorganisms, including Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Molenaar et al, 2009), as well as cancer cells (Vander Heiden et al, 2009). Despite extensive research, existing theories (Majewski and Domach, 1990; Varma and Palsson, 1994; Pfeiffer et al, 2001; Vazquez et al, 2008; Molenaar et al, 2009) cannot fully explain the respiro-fermentation phenomenon.
The membrane economics theory
We propose the hypothesis that the prokaryotic metabolism is fundamentally constrained by the finite cytoplasmic surface area available for protein expression—in order to maximize fitness, prokaryotic organisms such as E. coli must economically manage the expression of membrane proteins based on the membrane cost and the fitness benefit of the proteins. This hypothesis is proposed based on theoretical considerations (in this work), numerical analysis (Phillips and Milo, 2009), and experimental observation that the overexpression of non-respiratory membrane protein significantly reduces the oxygen consumption rate and induces aerobic fermentation (Wagner et al, 2007). Such a constraint on transmembrane protein expression may have significant physiological consequences in prokaryotes, such as E. coli, at higher catabolic rates. First, since both substrate transporters and respiratory enzymes are localized on the cytoplasmic membrane in prokaryotes, increased substrate uptake rates necessitates a decrease in the respiratory rate. This decrease in the respiratory rate, forces prokaryotes to process the additional substrate through the fermentative pathways, which are not catalyzed by transmembrane proteins, for continued ATP production. Furthermore, since the membrane requirement of an enzyme is inversely related to its turnover rate (see Materials and methods section in the manuscript), the faster and inefficient respiratory enzymes (such as Cyd-I and Cyd-II in E. coli) might be preferred over the slower and efficient enzymes (such as Cyo in E. coli), leading to an altered respiratory stoichiometry at higher catabolic rates. Finally, the absence of the respiratory enzymes under anaerobic conditions explains why the maximum glucose uptake rate (GUR) of E. coli is much higher.
Applying membrane economics theory to E. coli
To illustrate that the ‘membrane economics' theory could satisfactorily explain the physiological changes associated with the respiro-fermentation phenomenon in E. coli, we modified the genome-scale metabolic model of E. coli (Feist et al, 2007) to include a cytoplasmic membrane occupancy constraint. Using ‘relative membrane costs' calculated from experimental data, the new modeling framework—FBA with membrane economics (FBAME)—predicted that wild-type E. coli has a GUR of 10.7 mmol/gdw/h, an oxygen uptake rate (OUR) of 15.8 mmol/gdw/h, and a specific growth rate of 0.69 per hour during aerobic growth with excess glucose. FBAME also predicted that under the same growth condition, an E. coli knockout strain with no cytochromes has a GUR of 18 mmol/gdw/h and growth rate of 0.42. These values agree very well with the reported experimental values for E. coli grown in batch cultures (Vemuri et al, 2006; Portnoy et al, 2008), which supports our hypothesis that the higher GUR of E. coli during glucose-excess anaerobiosis than under aerobic conditions is due to the absence of the respiratory enzymes. We also simulated the aerobic growth of E. coli in glucose-limited chemostat using both conventional FBA and FBAME. FBAME successfully predicted the growth rate and yield changes with respect to increasing GUR (Figure 2A and B), as well as the aerobic production of acetate (Figure 2C) and concomitant repression of oxygen uptake (Figure 2D). On the other hand, traditional FBA significantly overestimated the growth rate and yield at higher GURs (this overestimation cannot be explained by varying the growth-associated maintenance (GAM) energy parameter; Figure 2A), and failed to predict the decrease in yield independent of acetate overflow and reduction in oxygen uptake at higher GURs (Figure 2). In addition, FBAME was able to predict the reduction of the TCA cycle activities at higher uptake rates (Figure 3C and D) as well as the selective expression of Cyo and Cyd-II at lower uptake rates (Figure 3A and B), whereas conventional FBA cannot predict the expression of inefficient Cyd-II. These predictions agree with the gene expression data from glucose-limited chemostat (Figure 3). Given the simplicity of the constraint we imposed, our model predictions agree surprisingly well with experimental observations, lending strong credibility to the membrane economics hypothesis.
Concluding remarks
Although it has been long suggested that cellular evolution are governed by non-adjustable mechanistic constraints (Palsson, 2000; Papin et al, 2005; Novak et al, 2006), to date, most metabolic models rely on empirically derived parameters such as glucose and OUR. In this article, we showed that complex phenomena, such as the respiro-fermentation in E. coli, could be satisfactorily explained and accurately predicted by using constraint-based optimization by introducing a simple mechanistic constraint on membrane enzyme occupancy. Given that the cytoplasmic membrane occupancy constraint is directly related to the surface area to volume (S/V) ratio of the cell, it is possible that this constraint resulted in the evolution of mitochondria in eukaryotes as mitochondria allows for a significantly increased S/V ratio. Further efforts to elucidate such fundamental cellular constraints as well as the underlying design principles could significantly improve our understanding of the regulation and evolution of metabolism.
The simultaneous utilization of efficient respiration and inefficient fermentation even in the presence of abundant oxygen is a puzzling phenomenon commonly observed in bacteria, yeasts, and cancer cells. Despite extensive research, the biochemical basis for this phenomenon remains obscure. We hypothesize that the outcome of a competition for membrane space between glucose transporters and respiratory chain (which we refer to as economics of membrane occupancy) proteins influences respiration and fermentation. By incorporating a sole constraint based on this concept in the genome-scale metabolic model of Escherichia coli, we were able to simulate respiro-fermentation. Further analysis of the impact of this constraint revealed differential utilization of the cytochromes and faster glucose uptake under anaerobic conditions than under aerobic conditions. Based on these simulations, we propose that bacterial cells manage the composition of their cytoplasmic membrane to maintain optimal ATP production by switching between oxidative and substrate-level phosphorylation. These results suggest that the membrane occupancy constraint may be a fundamental governing constraint of cellular metabolism and physiology, and establishes a direct link between cell morphology and physiology.
PMCID: PMC3159977  PMID: 21694717
constraint-based modeling; flux balance analysis; membrane occupancy; overflow metabolism; respiro-fermentation
17.  Scheffersomyces stipitis: a comparative systems biology study with the Crabtree positive yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Scheffersomyces stipitis is a Crabtree negative yeast, commonly known for its capacity to ferment pentose sugars. Differently from Crabtree positive yeasts such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the onset of fermentation in S. stipitis is not dependent on the sugar concentration, but is regulated by a decrease in oxygen levels. Even though S. stipitis has been extensively studied due to its potential application in pentoses fermentation, a limited amount of information is available about its metabolism during aerobic growth on glucose. Here, we provide a systems biology based comparison between the two yeasts, uncovering the metabolism of S. stipitis during aerobic growth on glucose under batch and chemostat cultivations.
Starting from the analysis of physiological data, we confirmed through 13C-based flux analysis the fully respiratory metabolism of S. stipitis when growing both under glucose limited or glucose excess conditions. The patterns observed showed similarity to the fully respiratory metabolism observed for S. cerevisiae under chemostat cultivations however, intracellular metabolome analysis uncovered the presence of several differences in metabolite patterns. To describe gene expression levels under the two conditions, we performed RNA sequencing and the results were used to quantify transcript abundances of genes from the central carbon metabolism and compared with those obtained with S. cerevisiae. Interestingly, genes involved in central pathways showed different patterns of expression, suggesting different regulatory networks between the two yeasts. Efforts were focused on identifying shared and unique families of transcription factors between the two yeasts through in silico transcription factors analysis, suggesting a different regulation of glycolytic and glucoenogenic pathways.
The work presented addresses the impact of high-throughput methods in describing and comparing the physiology of Crabtree positive and Crabtree negative yeasts. Based on physiological data and flux analysis we identified the presence of one metabolic condition for S. stipitis under aerobic batch and chemostat cultivations, which shows similarities to the oxidative metabolism observed for S. cerevisiae under chemostat cultivations. Through metabolome analysis and genome-wide transcriptomic analysis several differences were identified. Interestingly, in silico analysis of transciption factors was useful to address a different regulation of mRNAs of genes involved in the central carbon metabolism. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the metabolism of S. stiptis is investigated in details and is compared to S. cerevisiae. Our study provides useful results and allows for the possibility to incorporate these data into recently developed genome-scaled metabolic, thus contributing to improve future industrial applications of S. stipitis as cell factory.
PMCID: PMC3528450  PMID: 23043429
18.  Homeostatic Adjustment and Metabolic Remodeling in Glucose-limited Yeast CulturesD⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2005;16(5):2503-2517.
We studied the physiological response to glucose limitation in batch and steady-state (chemostat) cultures of Saccharomyces cerevisiae by following global patterns of gene expression. Glucose-limited batch cultures of yeast go through two sequential exponential growth phases, beginning with a largely fermentative phase, followed by an essentially completely aerobic use of residual glucose and evolved ethanol. Judging from the patterns of gene expression, the state of the cells growing at steady state in glucose-limited chemostats corresponds most closely with the state of cells in batch cultures just before they undergo this “diauxic shift.” Essentially the same pattern was found between chemostats having a fivefold difference in steady-state growth rate (the lower rate approximating that of the second phase respiratory growth rate in batch cultures). Although in both cases the cells in the chemostat consumed most of the glucose, in neither case did they seem to be metabolizing it primarily through respiration. Although there was some indication of a modest oxidative stress response, the chemostat cultures did not exhibit the massive environmental stress response associated with starvation that also is observed, at least in part, during the diauxic shift in batch cultures. We conclude that despite the theoretical possibility of a switch to fully aerobic metabolism of glucose in the chemostat under conditions of glucose scarcity, homeostatic mechanisms are able to carry out metabolic adjustment as if fermentation of the glucose is the preferred option until the glucose is entirely depleted. These results suggest that some aspect of actual starvation, possibly a component of the stress response, may be required for triggering the metabolic remodeling associated with the diauxic shift.
PMCID: PMC1087253  PMID: 15758028
19.  Carbon Flux Distribution and Kinetics of Cellulose Fermentation in Steady-State Continuous Cultures of Clostridium cellulolyticum on a Chemically Defined Medium 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(1):119-130.
The metabolic characteristics of Clostridium cellulolyticum, a mesophilic cellulolytic nonruminal bacterium, were investigated and characterized kinetically for the fermentation of cellulose by using chemostat culture analysis. Since with C. cellulolyticum (i) the ATP/ADP ratio is lower than 1, (ii) the production of lactate at low specific growth rate (μ) is low, and (iii) there is a decrease of the NADH/NAD+ ratio and qNADH produced/ qNADH used ratio as the dilution rate (D) increases in carbon-limited conditions, the chemostats used were cellulose-limited continuously fed cultures. Under all conditions, ethanol and acetate were the main end products of catabolism. There was no shift from an acetate-ethanol fermentation to a lactate-ethanol fermentation as previously observed on cellobiose as μ increased (E. Guedon, S. Payot, M. Desvaux, and H. Petitdemange, J. Bacteriol. 181:3262–3269, 1999). The acetate/ethanol ratio was always higher than 1 but decreased with D. On cellulose, glucose 6-phosphate and glucose 1-phosphate are important branch points since the longer the soluble β-glucan uptake is, the more glucose 1-phosphate will be generated. The proportion of carbon flowing toward phosphoglucomutase remained constant (around 59.0%), while the carbon surplus was dissipated through exopolysaccharide and glycogen synthesis. The percentage of carbon metabolized via pyruvate-ferredoxin oxidoreductase decreased with D. Acetyl coenzyme A was mainly directed toward the acetate formation pathway, which represented a minimum of 27.1% of the carbon substrate. Yet the proportion of carbon directed through biosynthesis (i.e., biomass, extracellular proteins, and free amino acids) and ethanol increased with D, reaching 27.3 and 16.8%, respectively, at 0.083 h−1. Lactate and extracellular pyruvate remained low, representing up to 1.5 and 0.2%, respectively, of the original carbon uptake. The true growth yield obtained on cellulose was higher, [50.5 g of cells (mol of hexose eq)−1] than on cellobiose, a soluble cellodextrin [36.2 g of cells (mol of hexose eq)−1]. The rate of cellulose utilization depended on the solid retention time and was first order, with a rate constant of 0.05 h−1. Compared to cellobiose, substrate hydrolysis by cellulosome when bacteria are grown on cellulose fibers introduces an extra means for regulation of the entering carbon flow. This led to a lower μ, and so metabolism was not as distorted as previously observed with a soluble substrate. From these results, C. cellulolyticum appeared well adapted and even restricted to a cellulolytic lifestyle.
PMCID: PMC94857  PMID: 11114908
20.  Mapping global effects of the anti-sigma factor MucA in Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 through genome-scale metabolic modeling 
BMC Systems Biology  2013;7:19.
Alginate is an industrially important polysaccharide, currently produced commercially by harvesting of marine brown sea-weeds. The polymer is also synthesized as an exo-polysaccharide by bacteria belonging to the genera Pseudomonas and Azotobacter, and these organisms may represent an alternative alginate source in the future. The current work describes an attempt to rationally develop a biological system tuned for very high levels of alginate production, based on a fundamental understanding of the system through metabolic modeling supported by transcriptomics studies and carefully controlled fermentations.
Alginate biosynthesis in Pseudomonas fluorescens was studied in a genomics perspective, using an alginate over-producing strain carrying a mutation in the anti-sigma factor gene mucA. Cells were cultivated in chemostats under nitrogen limitation on fructose or glycerol as carbon sources, and cell mass, growth rate, sugar uptake, alginate and CO2 production were monitored. In addition a genome scale metabolic model was constructed and samples were collected for transcriptome analyses. The analyses show that polymer production operates in a close to optimal way with respect to stoichiometric utilization of the carbon source and that the cells increase the uptake of carbon source to compensate for the additional needs following from alginate synthesis. The transcriptome studies show that in the presence of the mucA mutation, the alg operon is upregulated together with genes involved in energy generation, genes on both sides of the succinate node of the TCA cycle and genes encoding ribosomal and other translation-related proteins. Strains expressing a functional MucA protein (no alginate production) synthesize cellular biomass in an inefficient way, apparently due to a cycle that involves oxidation of NADPH without ATP production. The results of this study indicate that the most efficient way of using a mucA mutant as a cell factory for alginate production would be to use non-growing conditions and nitrogen deprivation.
The insights gained in this study should be very useful for a future efficient production of microbial alginates.
PMCID: PMC3641028  PMID: 23497367
Pseudomonas; Polysaccharide; Alginate; Genome-scale metabolic modeling
21.  Low oxygen levels as a trigger for enhancement of respiratory metabolism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:461.
The industrially important yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is able to grow both in the presence and absence of oxygen. However, the regulation of its metabolism in conditions of intermediate oxygen availability is not well characterised. We assessed the effect of oxygen provision on the transcriptome and proteome of S. cerevisiae in glucose-limited chemostat cultivations in anaerobic and aerobic conditions, and with three intermediate (0.5, 1.0 and 2.8% oxygen) levels of oxygen in the feed gas.
The main differences in the transcriptome were observed in the comparison of fully aerobic, intermediate oxygen and anaerobic conditions, while the transcriptome was generally unchanged in conditions receiving different intermediate levels (0.5, 1.0 or 2.8% O2) of oxygen in the feed gas. Comparison of the transcriptome and proteome data suggested post-transcriptional regulation was important, especially in 0.5% oxygen. In the conditions of intermediate oxygen, the genes encoding enzymes of the respiratory pathway were more highly expressed than in either aerobic or anaerobic conditions. A similar trend was also seen in the proteome and in enzyme activities of the TCA cycle. Further, genes encoding proteins of the mitochondrial translation machinery were present at higher levels in all oxygen-limited and anaerobic conditions, compared to fully aerobic conditions.
Global upregulation of genes encoding components of the respiratory pathway under conditions of intermediate oxygen suggested a regulatory mechanism to control these genes as a response to the need of more efficient energy production. Further, cells grown in three different intermediate oxygen levels were highly similar at the level of transcription, while they differed at the proteome level, suggesting post-transcriptional mechanisms leading to distinct physiological modes of respiro-fermentative metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2767370  PMID: 19804647
22.  Exploring and dissecting genome-wide gene expression responses of Penicillium chrysogenum to phenylacetic acid consumption and penicillinG production 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:75.
Since the discovery of the antibacterial activity of penicillin by Fleming 80 years ago, improvements of penicillin titer were essentially achieved by classical strain improvement through mutagenesis and screening. The recent sequencing of Penicillium chrysogenum strain Wisconsin1255-54 and the availability of genomics tools such as DNA-microarray offer new perspective.
In studies on β-lactam production by P. chrysogenum, addition and omission of a side-chain precursor is commonly used to generate producing and non-producing scenarios. To dissect effects of penicillinG production and of its side-chain precursor phenylacetic acid (PAA), a derivative of a penicillinG high-producing strain without a functional penicillin-biosynthesis gene cluster was constructed. In glucose-limited chemostat cultures of the high-producing and cluster-free strains, PAA addition caused a small reduction of the biomass yield, consistent with PAA acting as a weak-organic-acid uncoupler. Microarray-based analysis on chemostat cultures of the high-producing and cluster-free strains, grown in the presence and absence of PAA, showed that: (i) Absence of a penicillin gene cluster resulted in transcriptional upregulation of a gene cluster putatively involved in production of the secondary metabolite aristolochene and its derivatives, (ii) The homogentisate pathway for PAA catabolism is strongly transcriptionally upregulated in PAA-supplemented cultures (iii) Several genes involved in nitrogen and sulfur metabolism were transcriptionally upregulated under penicillinG producing conditions only, suggesting a drain of amino-acid precursor pools. Furthermore, the number of candidate genes for penicillin transporters was strongly reduced, thus enabling a focusing of functional analysis studies.
This study demonstrates the usefulness of combinatorial transcriptome analysis in chemostat cultures to dissect effects of biological and process parameters on gene expression regulation. This study provides for the first time clear-cut target genes for metabolic engineering, beyond the three genes of the β-lactam pathway.
PMCID: PMC2657799  PMID: 19203396
23.  The impact of oxygen on the transcriptome of recombinant S. cerevisiae and P. pastoris - a comparative analysis 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:218.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia pastoris are two of the most relevant microbial eukaryotic platforms for the production of recombinant proteins. Their known genome sequences enabled several transcriptomic profiling studies under many different environmental conditions, thus mimicking not only perturbations and adaptations which occur in their natural surroundings, but also in industrial processes. Notably, the majority of such transcriptome analyses were performed using non-engineered strains.
In this comparative study, the gene expression profiles of S. cerevisiae and P. pastoris, a Crabtree positive and Crabtree negative yeast, respectively, were analyzed for three different oxygenation conditions (normoxic, oxygen-limited and hypoxic) under recombinant protein producing conditions in chemostat cultivations.
The major differences in the transcriptomes of S. cerevisiae and P. pastoris were observed between hypoxic and normoxic conditions, where the availability of oxygen strongly affected ergosterol biosynthesis, central carbon metabolism and stress responses, particularly the unfolded protein response. Steady state conditions under low oxygen set-points seemed to perturb the transcriptome of S. cerevisiae to a much lesser extent than the one of P. pastoris, reflecting the major tolerance of the baker's yeast towards oxygen limitation, and a higher fermentative capacity. Further important differences were related to Fab production, which was not significantly affected by oxygen availability in S. cerevisiae, while a clear productivity increase had been previously reported for hypoxically grown P. pastoris.
The effect of three different levels of oxygen availability on the physiology of P. pastoris and S. cerevisiae revealed a very distinct remodelling of the transcriptional program, leading to novel insights into the different adaptive responses of Crabtree negative and positive yeasts to oxygen availability. Moreover, the application of such comparative genomic studies to recombinant hosts grown in different environments might lead to the identification of key factors for efficient protein production.
PMCID: PMC3116504  PMID: 21554735
24.  Genome-Wide Analysis of the Pho Regulon in a pstCA Mutant of Citrobacter rodentium 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50682.
The phosphate-specific transport operon, pstSCAB-phoU, of Gram-negative bacteria is an essential part of the Pho regulon. Its key roles are to encode a high-affinity inorganic phosphate transport system and to prevent activation of PhoB in phosphate-rich environments. In general, mutations in pstSCAB-phoU lead to the constitutive expression of the Pho regulon. Previously, we constructed a pstCA deletion mutant of Citrobacter rodentium and found it to be attenuated for virulence in mice, its natural host. This attenuation was dependent on PhoB or PhoB-regulated gene(s) because a phoB mutation restored virulence for mice to the pstCA mutant. To investigate how downstream genes may contribute to the virulence of C. rodentium, we used microarray analysis to investigate global gene expression of C. rodentium strain ICC169 and its isogenic pstCA mutant when grown in phosphate-rich medium. Overall 323 genes of the pstCA mutant were differentially expressed by at least 1.5-fold compared to the wild-type C. rodentium. Of these 145 were up-regulated and 178 were down-regulated. Differentially expressed genes included some involved in phosphate homoeostasis, cellular metabolism and protein metabolism. A large number of genes involved in stress responses and of unknown function were also differentially expressed, as were some virulence-associated genes. Up-regulated virulence-associated genes in the pstCA mutant included that for DegP, a serine protease, which appeared to be directly regulated by PhoB. Down-regulated genes included those for the production of the urease, flagella, NleG8 (a type III-secreted protein) and the tad focus (which encodes type IVb pili in Yersinia enterocolitica). Infection studies using C57/BL6 mice showed that DegP and NleG8 play a role in bacterial virulence. Overall, our study provides evidence that Pho is a global regulator of gene expression in C. rodentium and indicates the presence of at least two previously unrecognized virulence determinants of C. rodentium, namely, DegP and NleG8.
PMCID: PMC3511308  PMID: 23226353
25.  Growth Temperature Exerts Differential Physiological and Transcriptional Responses in Laboratory and Wine Strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae▿ † 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(20):6358-6368.
Laboratory strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been widely used as a model for studying eukaryotic cells and mapping the molecular mechanisms of many different human diseases. Industrial wine yeasts, on the other hand, have been selected on the basis of their adaptation to stringent environmental conditions and the organoleptic properties that they confer to wine. Here, we used a two-factor design to study the responses of a standard laboratory strain, CEN.PK113-7D, and an industrial wine yeast strain, EC1118, to growth temperatures of 15°C and 30°C in nitrogen-limited, anaerobic, steady-state chemostat cultures. Physiological characterization revealed that the growth temperature strongly impacted the biomass yield of both strains. Moreover, we found that the wine yeast was better adapted to mobilizing resources for biomass production and that the laboratory yeast exhibited higher fermentation rates. To elucidate mechanistic differences controlling the growth temperature response and underlying adaptive mechanisms between the strains, DNA microarrays and targeted metabolome analysis were used. We identified 1,007 temperature-dependent genes and 473 strain-dependent genes. The transcriptional response was used to identify highly correlated gene expression subnetworks within yeast metabolism. We showed that temperature differences most strongly affect nitrogen metabolism and the heat shock response. A lack of stress response element-mediated gene induction, coupled with reduced trehalose levels, indicated that there was a decreased general stress response at 15°C compared to that at 30°C. Differential responses among strains were centered on sugar uptake, nitrogen metabolism, and expression of genes related to organoleptic properties. Our study provides global insight into how growth temperature affects differential physiological and transcriptional responses in laboratory and wine strains of S. cerevisiae.
PMCID: PMC2570279  PMID: 18723660

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