Many archaea colonize extreme environments. They include
hyperthermophiles, sulfur-metabolizing thermophiles, extreme
halophiles and methanogens. Because extremophilic microorganisms have
unusual properties, they are a potentially valuable resource in the
development of novel biotechnological processes. Despite extensive
research, however, there are few existing industrial applications of
either archaeal biomass or archaeal enzymes. This review summarizes
current knowledge about the biotechnological uses of archaea and
archaeal enzymes with special attention to potential applications that
are the subject of current experimental evaluation. Topics covered
include cultivation methods, recent achievements in genomics, which
are of key importance for the development of new biotechnological
tools, and the application of wild-type biomasses, engineered
microorganisms, enzymes and specific metabolites in particular
bioprocesses of industrial interest.
biotechnology; extremozymes; high density cultivation; recombinant DNA technology
Numerous microorganisms accumulate polyesters classified as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) as carbon and energy storage material when the growth condition is unfavorable in the presence of excess carbon source. Natural PHAs typically consist of various (R)-hydroxycarboxylic acids, and exhibit different material properties depending on the monomer composition. Such diversity comes from different metabolic pathways operating in the cell, and thus generating different monomers. Even more diverse PHAs can be produced by metabolically engineered microorganisms, which leads to the biosynthesis of non-natural polyesters containing lactate as a monomer. In order to make PHAs as useful polymers in our daily life, their production cost should be significantly lowered and material properties should be compatible with those produced by petrochemical industries. Metabolic engineering can address these issues by developing microbial strains capable of producing PHAs of desired material properties with high productivity and yield from inexpensive carbon sources. This commentary aims at peeking into the future of PHAs, focusing on the possible metabolic engineering strategies to be taken to achieve these goals.
Polyester; Polyhydroxyalkanoate; Metabolic engineering
Polyhydroxyalkanoic acids (PHAs) are a class of polyesters stored in inclusion bodies and found in many bacteria and in some archaea. The terminal step in the synthesis of PHA is catalyzed by PHA synthase. Genes encoding this enzyme have been cloned, and the primary sequence of the protein, PhaC, is deduced from the nucleotide sequences of more than 30 organisms. PHA synthases are grouped into three classes based on substrate range, molecular mass, and whether or not there is a requirement for phaE in addition to the phaC gene product. Here we report the results of an analysis of a PHA synthase that does not fit any of the described classes. This novel PHA synthase from Bacillus megaterium required PhaC (PhaCBm) and PhaR (PhaRBm) for activity in vivo and in vitro. PhaCBm showed greatest similarity to the PhaCs of class III in both size and sequence. Unlike those in class III, the 40-kDa PhaE was not required, and furthermore, the 22-kDa PhaRBm had no obvious homology to PhaE. Previously we showed that PhaCBm, and here we show that PhaRBm, is localized to inclusion bodies in living cells. We show that two forms of PHA synthase exist, an active form in PHA-accumulating cells and an inactive form in nonaccumulating cells. PhaC was constitutively produced in both cell types but was more susceptible to protease degradation in the latter type. Our data show that the role of PhaR is posttranscriptional and that it functions directly or indirectly with PhaCBm to produce an active PHA synthase.
The microorganisms inhabiting many petroleum reservoirs are multi-extremophiles capable of surviving in environments with high temperature, pressure and salinity. Their activity influences oil quality and they are an important reservoir of enzymes of industrial interest. To study these microbial assemblages and to assess any modifications that may be caused by industrial practices, the bacterial and archaeal communities in waters from four Algerian oilfields were described and compared. Three different types of samples were analyzed: production waters from flooded wells, production waters from non-flooded wells and injection waters used for flooding (water-bearing formations). Microbial communities of production and injection waters appeared to be significantly different. From a quantitative point of view, injection waters harbored roughly ten times more microbial cells than production waters. Bacteria dominated in injection waters, while Archaea dominated in production waters. Statistical analysis based on the relative abundance and bacterial community composition (BCC) revealed significant differences between production and injection waters at both OTUs0.03 and phylum level. However, no significant difference was found between production waters from flooded and non-flooded wells, suggesting that most of the microorganisms introduced by the injection waters were unable to survive in the production waters. Furthermore, a Venn diagram generated to compare the BCC of production and injection waters of one flooded well revealed only 4% of shared bacterial OTUs. Phylogenetic analysis of bacterial sequences indicated that Alpha-, Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria were the main classes in most of the water samples. Archaeal sequences were only obtained from production wells and each well had a unique archaeal community composition, mainly belonging to Methanobacteria, Methanomicrobia, Thermoprotei and Halobacteria classes. Many of the bacterial genera retrieved had already been reported as degraders of complex organic molecules and pollutants. Nevertheless, a large number of unclassified bacterial and archaeal sequences were found in the analyzed samples, indicating that subsurface waters in oilfields could harbor new and still-non-described microbial species.
This study investigated the apparent genetic redundancy in the biosynthesis of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) in the Rhodospirillum rubrum genome revealed by the occurrence of three homologous PHA polymerase genes (phaC1, phaC2, and phaC3). In vitro biochemical assays established that each gene product encodes PHA polymerase. A series of single, double, and triple phaC deletion mutants were characterized with respect to PHA production and growth capabilities on acetate or hexanoate as the sole carbon source. These analyses establish that phaC2 contributes the major capacity to produce PHA, even though the PhaC2 protein is not the most efficient PHA polymerase biocatalyst. In contrast, phaC3 is an insignificant contributor to PHA productivity, and phaC1, the PHA polymerase situated in the PHA biosynthetic operon, plays a minor role in this capability, even though both of these genes encode PHA polymerases that are more efficient enzymes. These observations are consistent with the finding that PhaC1 and PhaC3 occur at undetectable levels, at least 10-fold lower than that of PhaC2. The monomers in the PHA polymer produced by these strains establish that PhaC2 is responsible for the incorporation of the C5 and C6 monomers. The in vitro characterizations indicate that heteromeric PHA polymerases composed of mixtures of different PhaC paralogs are more efficient catalysts, suggesting that these proteins form complexes. Finally, the physiological role of PHA accumulation in enhancing the fitness of R. rubrum was indicated by the relationship between PHA content and growth capabilities of the genetically manipulated strains that express different levels of the PHA polymer.
Exopolysaccharides (EPSs) produced by lactic acid bacteria are important for the texture of fermented foods and have received a great deal of interest recently. However, the low production levels of EPSs in combination with the complex media used for growth of the bacteria have caused problems in the accurate analysis of the EPS. The purpose of this study was to find a growth medium for physiological studies of the lactic acid bacterium Streptococcus thermophilus, and to develop a simple method for qualitative and quantitative analysis of EPSs produced in this medium.
A semi-defined polysaccharide medium was developed and evaluated on six strains of Streptococcus thermophilus. The EPSs were analysed using a novel protocol incorporating ultracentrifugation for the removal of interfering sugars, hydrolysis and analysis of the monomer composition by High Performance Anion-Exchange Chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection. The medium and analysis method allowed accurate quantification and monomer analysis of 0.5 ml samples of EPSs from tube cultures.
The presented medium should be useful for physiological studies of S. thermophilus, and, in combination with the method of analysis of EPS, will allow downscaling of physiological studies and screening for EPSs.
This research article reports halophilic and halotolerant bacteria isolated from mangrove forests located in Northern Vietnam. Several of these bacteria were able to synthesize polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). PHAs are polyesters stored by microorganisms under the presence of considerable amounts of a carbon source and deficiency of other essential nutrient such as nitrogen or phosphorous. Mangrove forests in Northern Vietnam are saline coastal habitats that have not been microbiologically studied. Mangrove ecosystems are, in general, rich in organic matter, but deficient in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. We have found about 100 microorganisms that have adapted to mangrove forests by accumulating PHAs. The production of polyesters might therefore be an integral part of the carbon cycle in mangrove forests. Three of the strains (ND153, ND97, and QN194) isolated from the Vietnamese forests were identified as Bacillus species, while other five strains (QN187, ND199, ND218, ND240, and QN271) were phylogenetically close related to the α-proteobacterium Yangia pacifica. These strains were found to accumulate PHAs in noticeable amounts. Polymer inclusions and chemical structure were studied by transmission electron microscopy and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy analyses, respectively. Strains ND153, ND97, QN194, QN187, ND240, and QN271 synthesized poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) from glucose, whereas strains ND199 and ND218 synthesized poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) from this carbohydrate. With the exception of strain QN194, the strains accumulated PHBV when a combination of glucose and propionate was included in the culture medium. The polymer yields and cell growth reached by one Bacillus isolate, strain ND153, and one Gram-negative bacterium, strain QN271, were high and worth to be researched further. For experiments performed in shake flasks, strain ND153 reached a maximum PHBV yield of 71 wt% and a cell dry weight (CDW) of 3.6 g/L while strain QN271 attained a maximum PHB yield of 48 wt% and a CDW of 5.1 g/L. Both strain ND153 and strain QN271 may only represent a case in point that exemplifies of the potential that mangrove forests possess for the discovery of novel halophilic and halotolerant microorganisms able to synthesize different types of biopolyesters.
Biopolyesters; halophilic bacteria; halotolerant bacteria; mangrove forests; polyhydroxyalkanoates
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are natural polyesters stored by a wide range of bacteria as carbon source reserve. Due to its chemical characteristics and biodegradability PHA can be used in chemical, medical and pharmaceutical industry for many human purposes. Over the past years, few Burkholderia species have become known for production of PHA. Aside from that, these bacteria seem to be interesting for discovering new PHA compositions which is important to different industrial applications. In this paper, we introduce two new strains which belong either to Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) or genomovar-type, Burkholderia cepacia SA3J and Burkholderia contaminans I29B, both PHA producers from unrelated carbon sources. The classification was based on 16S rDNA and recA partial sequence genes and cell wall fatty acids composition. These two strains were capable to produce different types of PHA monomers or precursors. Unrelated carbon sources were used for growth and PHA accumulation. The amount of carbon source evaluated, or mixtures of them, was increased with every new experiment until it reaches eighteen carbon sources. As first bioprospection experiments staining methods were used with colony fluorescent dye Nile Red and the cell fluorescent dye Nile Blue A. Gas chromatography analysis coupled to mass spectrometry was used to evaluate the PHA composition on each strain cultivated on different carbon sources. The synthesized polymers were composed by short chain length-PHA (scl-PHA), especially polyhydroxybutyrate, and medium chain length-PHA (mcl-PHA) depending on the carbon source used.
Burkholderia; Burkholderia cepacia complex; Genomovar-type; mcl-PHA; polyhydroxyalkanoates; polyhydroxybutyrate
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are microbial polyesters that can be used as completely biodegradable polymers, but the high production cost prevents their use in a wide range of applications. Recombinant Escherichia coli strains harboring the Ralstonia eutropha PHA biosynthesis genes have been reported to have several advantages as PHA producers compared with wild-type PHA-producing bacteria. However, the PHA productivity (amount of PHA produced per unit volume per unit time) obtained with these recombinant E. coli strains has been lower than that obtained with the wild-type bacterium Alcaligenes latus. To endow the potentially superior PHA biosynthetic machinery to E. coli, we cloned the PHA biosynthesis genes from A. latus. The three PHA biosynthesis genes formed an operon with the order PHA synthase, β-ketothiolase, and reductase genes and were constitutively expressed from the natural promoter in E. coli. Recombinant E. coli strains harboring the A. latus PHA biosynthesis genes accumulated poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), a model PHA product, more efficiently than those harboring the R. eutropha genes. With a pH-stat fed-batch culture of recombinant E. coli harboring a stable plasmid containing the A. latus PHA biosynthesis genes, final cell and PHB concentrations of 194.1 and 141.6 g/liter, respectively, were obtained, resulting in a high productivity of 4.63 g of PHB/liter/h. This improvement should allow recombinant E. coli to be used for the production of PHB with a high level of economic competitiveness.
Metabolically engineered Escherichia coli JM109 harboring plasmid pBPP1 and expressing the nonnatural BPEC pathway for synthesis of thermoplastic polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and novel polythioesters (PTE) to provide suitable substrates of PHA synthase was investigated with respect to biotechnological production of poly(3-mercaptopropionate) [poly(3MP)]. Fed-batch fermentation processes were established at the 30- and 500-liter scales in stirred tank bioreactors to produce kilogram amounts of poly(3MP). Cultivation was done in a modified M9 mineral salts medium containing glucose or glycerol as the carbon and energy source and with 3-mercaptopropionic acid (3MP) as the precursor substrate for poly(3MP) biosynthesis provided from the late exponential growth phase. Approximately 23 g of cell dry matter (CDM) per liter and poly(3MP) cell contents of up to 45% (wt/wt) were the highest cell densities and polymer contents obtained, respectively. At best, 69.1% (wt/wt) of 3MP was converted into poly(3MP), indicating that 3MP was mostly used for poly(3MP) biosynthesis. Furthermore, a novel in situ process for rapid and convenient isolation of poly(3MP) from the cells in the bioreactor was developed. This was achieved by addition of sodium dodecyl sulfate to the cultivation broth immediately after the fermentation, heating to 90°C for 20 min with intensive stirring, and subsequent washing steps. The purity of such in situ isolated poly(3MP) was more than 98%, as revealed by gas chromatographic and elemental sulfur analyses of the material isolated.
A novel thermoalkalophilic depolymerase, PhaZ7, from P. lemoignei was crystallized by the microdialysis technique. Crystals belong to space group C2 and diffract to 2.75 Å resolution at a synchrotron source.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are biodegradable polyesters that have attracted commercial and academic interest as environmentally friendly materials. A number of enzymes are able to degrade polyhydroxyalkanoates to water-soluble products. PhaZ7 poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) depolymerase (EC 184.108.40.206), a 342-amino-acid hydrolase from the PHA-degrading bacterium Paucimonas lemoignei, has been found to possess substrate specificity for amorphous PHA. PhaZ7 was crystallized by the microdialysis method. Thin rod-like crystals were grown in low ionic strength solution and found to belong to the monoclinic space group C2, with unit-cell parameters a = 225.8, b = 46.5, c = 171.3, β = 128.9°. A complete data set was collected to 2.75 Å resolution at 100 K using synchrotron radiation.
biopolymers; biodegradation; Paucimonas lemoignei; serine hydrolases; depolymerase
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are biodegradable polymers that are attractive materials for use in tissue engineering and medical device manufacturing. Ralstonia eutropha is regarded as the model organism for PHA biosynthesis. We examined the effects of PHA depolymerase (PhaZ) expression on PHA homeostasis in R. eutropha strains. In order to analyze the impact of PhaZs on R. eutropha granule architecture, we performed electron microscopy on several phaZ knockout strains and the wild type strain grown under PHA production conditions. Analysis of the acquired micrographs was based on stereology: the ratio of granule area and cell area was determined, along with total granule count per full-size cell image. Cells bearing a phaZ2 knockout mutation alone or in conjunction with a phaZ1 mutation were found to have a high granule volume per cell volume and a higher granule count compared to wild type. A phaZ quadruple knockout strain appeared to have a low granule volume per cell volume and a low granule count per cell. Cells bearing a phaZ3 knockout were found to have a higher granule count than the wild type, whereas granule volume per cell volume was similar. Accordingly, we hypothesize that PhaZs have not only an impact on PHA degradation but also on the 3-dimensional granule architecture. Based on our data, PhaZ2 is postulated to affect granule density. This work increased our knowledge about PHA depolymerases in R. eutropha, including enzymes that had previously been uncharacterized.
Ralstonia eutropha; Polyhydroxyalkanoates; Polyhydroxybutyrate; Biomaterials; Depolymerase; Granules; Carbon utilization; Electron microscopy; Stereology
Pseudomonas putida KT2442 is a natural producer of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), which can substitute petroleum-based non-renewable plastics and form the basis for the production of tailor-made biopolymers. However, despite the substantial body of work on PHA production by P. putida strains, it is not yet clear how the bacterium re-arranges its whole metabolism when it senses the limitation of nitrogen and the excess of fatty acids as carbon source, to result in a large accumulation of PHAs within the cell. In the present study we investigated the metabolic response of KT2442 using a systems biology approach to highlight the differences between single- and multiple-nutrient-limited growth in chemostat cultures.
We found that 26, 62, and 81% of the cell dry weight consist of PHA under conditions of carbon, dual, and nitrogen limitation, respectively. Under nitrogen limitation a specific PHA production rate of 0.43 (g·(g·h)-1) was obtained. The residual biomass was not constant for dual- and strict nitrogen-limiting growth, showing a different feature in comparison to other P. putida strains. Dual limitation resulted in patterns of gene expression, protein level, and metabolite concentrations that substantially differ from those observed under exclusive carbon or nitrogen limitation. The most pronounced differences were found in the energy metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, as well as stress proteins and enzymes belonging to the transport system.
This is the first study where the interrelationship between nutrient limitations and PHA synthesis has been investigated under well-controlled conditions using a system level approach. The knowledge generated will be of great assistance for the development of bioprocesses and further metabolic engineering work in this versatile organism to both enhance and diversify the industrial production of PHAs.
P. putida KT2442; Nutrient limitation; Systems biology; Polyhydroxyalkanoates
The synthesis of bacterial polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) is very much dependent on the expression and activity of a key enzyme, PHA synthase (PhaC). Many efforts are being pursued to enhance the activity and broaden the substrate specificity of PhaC. Here, we report the identification of a highly active wild-type PhaC belonging to the recently isolated Chromobacterium sp. USM2 (PhaCCs). PhaCCs showed the ability to utilize 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB), 3-hydroxyvalerate (3HV), and 3-hydroxyhexanoate (3HHx) monomers in PHA biosynthesis. An in vitro assay of recombinant PhaCCs expressed in Escherichia coli showed that its polymerization of 3-hydroxybutyryl-coenzyme A activity was nearly 8-fold higher (2,462 ± 80 U/g) than that of the synthase from the model strain C. necator (307 ± 24 U/g). Specific activity using a Strep2-tagged, purified PhaCCs was 238 ± 98 U/mg, almost 5-fold higher than findings of previous studies using purified PhaC from C. necator. Efficient poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) [P(3HB)] accumulation in Escherichia coli expressing PhaCCs of up to 76 ± 2 weight percent was observed within 24 h of cultivation. To date, this is the highest activity reported for a purified PHA synthase. PhaCCs is a naturally occurring, highly active PHA synthase with superior polymerizing ability.
The haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei has shown promise for the economical production of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV), a desirable bioplastic. However, little is known at present about the genes involved in PHBV synthesis in the domain Archaea. In this study, we cloned the gene cluster (phaECHme) encoding a polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthase in H. mediterranei CGMCC 1.2087 via thermal asymmetric interlaced PCR. Western blotting revealed that the phaEHme and phaCHme genes were constitutively expressed, and both the PhaEHme and PhaCHme proteins were strongly bound to the PHBV granules. Interestingly, CGMCC 1.2087 could synthesize PHBV in either nutrient-limited medium (supplemented with 1% starch) or nutrient-rich medium, up to 24 or 18% (wt/wt) in shaking flasks. Knockout of the phaECHme genes in CGMCC 1.2087 led to a complete loss of PHBV synthesis, and only complementation with the phaECHme genes together (but not either one alone) could restore to this mutant the capability for PHBV accumulation. The known haloarchaeal PhaC subunits are much longer at their C termini than their bacterial counterparts, and the C-terminal extension of PhaCHme was proven to be indispensable for its function in vivo. Moreover, the mixture of purified PhaEHme/PhaCHme (1:1) showed significant activity of PHA synthase in vitro. Taken together, our results indicated that a novel member of the class III PHA synthases, composed of PhaCHme and PhaEHme, accounted for the PHBV synthesis in H. mediterranei.
Since Pseudomonas aeruginosa is capable of biosynthesis of polyhydroxyalkanoic acid (PHA) and rhamnolipids, which contain lipid moieties that are derived from fatty acid biosynthesis, we investigated various fab mutants from P. aeruginosa with respect to biosynthesis of PHAs and rhamnolipids. All isogenic fabA, fabB, fabI, rhlG, and phaG mutants from P. aeruginosa showed decreased PHA accumulation and rhamnolipid production. In the phaG (encoding transacylase) mutant rhamnolipid production was only slightly decreased. Expression of phaG from Pseudomonas putida and expression of the β-ketoacyl reductase gene rhlG from P. aeruginosa in these mutants indicated that PhaG catalyzes diversion of intermediates of fatty acid de novo biosynthesis towards PHA biosynthesis, whereas RhlG catalyzes diversion towards rhamnolipid biosynthesis. These data suggested that both biosynthesis pathways are competitive. In order to investigate whether PhaG is the only linking enzyme between fatty acid de novo biosynthesis and PHA biosynthesis, we generated five Tn5 mutants of P. putida strongly impaired in PHA production from gluconate. All mutants were complemented by the phaG gene from P. putida, indicating that the transacylase-mediated PHA biosynthesis route represents the only metabolic link between fatty acid de novo biosynthesis and PHA biosynthesis in this bacterium. The transacylase-mediated PHA biosynthesis route from gluconate was established in recombinant E. coli, coexpressing the class II PHA synthase gene phaC1 together with the phaG gene from P. putida, only when fatty acid de novo biosynthesis was partially inhibited by triclosan. The accumulated PHA contributed to 2 to 3% of cellular dry weight.
The structure and ecological roles of the exopolysaccharides (EPSs) from sea ice microorganisms are poorly studied. Here we show that strain SM20310, with an EPS production of 567 mg liter−1, was screened from 110 Arctic sea ice isolates and identified as a Pseudoalteromonas strain. The EPS secreted by SM20310 was purified, and its structural characteristics were studied. The predominant repeating unit of this EPS is a highly complicated α-mannan with a molecular mass greater than 2 × 106 Da. The backbone of the EPS consists of 2-α-, 6-α-mannosyl residues, in which a considerable part of the 6-α-mannosyl residues are branched at the 2 position with either single t-mannosyl residues or two mannosyl residues. The structure of the described EPS is different from the structures of EPSs secreted by other marine bacteria. Analysis of the ecological roles of the identified EPS showed that the EPS could significantly enhance the high-salinity tolerance of SM20310 and improve the survival of SM20310 after freeze-thaw cycles. These results suggest that the EPS secreted by strain SM20310 enables the strain to adapt to the sea ice environment, which is characterized by low temperature, high salinity, and repeated freeze-thaw cycles. In addition to its functions in strain SM20310, this EPS also significantly improved the tolerance of Escherichia coli to freeze-thaw cycles, suggesting that it may have a universal impact on microorganism cryoprotection.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biopolymers, which can replace petrochemical plastics in many applications. However, these bioplastics are currently far more expensive than petrochemical plastics. Many researchers are investigating the use of inexpensive substrates derived from waste streams. Waste frying oil is abundant and can be used in PHA production without filtration.
Cupriavidus necator (formerly known as Ralstonia eutropha) is a versatile organism for the production of PHAs. Small-scale batch fermentation studies have been set up, using different concentrations of pure vegetable oil, heated vegetable oil and waste frying oil. These oils are all rapeseed oils.
It has been shown that Cupriavidus necator produced the homopolymer polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) from the rapeseed oils. The achieved PHB concentration from waste frying oil was 1.2 g/l, which is similar to a concentration that can be obtained from glucose. The PHB harvest from pure oil and heated oil was 0.62 g/l and 0.9 g/l respectively. A feed of waste frying oil could thus achieve more biopolymer than pure vegetable oil. While the use of a waste product is beneficial from a life-cycle perspective, PHB is not the only product that can be made from waste oil. The collection of waste frying oil is becoming more widespread, making waste oil a good alternative to purified oil or glucose for PHB production.
polyhydroxyalkanoates; polyhydroxybutyrate; bacterial fermentation; biopolymer; waste frying oil; rapeseed oil
PHA synthase is a key enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). Using a combinatorial genetic strategy to create unique chimeric class II PHA synthases, we have obtained a number of novel chimeras which display improved catalytic properties. To engineer the chimeric PHA synthases, we constructed a synthetic phaC gene from Pseudomonas oleovorans (phaC1Po) that was devoid of an internal 540-bp fragment. Randomly amplified PCR products (created with primers based on conserved phaC sequences flanking the deleted internal fragment) were generated using genomic DNA isolated from soil and were substituted for the 540-bp internal region. The chimeric genes were expressed in a PHA-negative strain of Ralstonia eutropha, PHB−4 (DSM 541). Out of 1,478 recombinant clones screened for PHA production, we obtained five different chimeric phaC1Po genes that produced more PHA than the native phaC1Po. Chimeras S1-71, S4-8, S5-58, S3-69, and S3-44 exhibited 1.3-, 1.4-, 2.0-, 2.1-, and 3.0-fold-increased levels of in vivo activity, respectively. All of the mutants mediated the synthesis of PHAs with a slightly increased molar fraction of 3-hydroxyoctanoate; however, the weight-average molecular weights (Mw) of the PHAs in all cases remained almost the same. Based upon DNA sequence analyses, the various phaC fragments appear to have originated from Pseudomonas fluorescens and Pseudomonas aureofaciens. The amino acid sequence analyses showed that the chimeric proteins had 17 to 20 amino acid differences from the wild-type phaC1Po, and these differences were clustered in the same positions in the five chimeric clones. A threading model of PhaC1Po, developed based on homology of the enzyme to the Burkholderia glumae lipase, suggested that the amino acid substitutions found in the active chimeras were located mostly on the protein model surface. Thus, our combinatorial genetic engineering strategy proved to be broadly useful for improving the catalytic activities of PHA synthase enzymes.
A novel mutant of the marine oil-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2, containing a mini-Tn5 transposon disrupting a “tesB-like” acyl-coenzyme A (CoA) thioesterase gene, was found to hyperproduce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), resulting in the extracellular deposition of this biotechnologically important polymer when grown on alkanes. The tesB-like gene encodes a distinct novel enzyme activity, which acts exclusively on hydroxylated acyl-CoAs and thus represents a hydroxyacyl-CoA-specific thioesterase. Inactivation of this enzyme results in the rechanneling of CoA-activated hydroxylated fatty acids, the cellular intermediates of alkane degradation, towards PHA production. These findings may open up new avenues for the development of simplified biotechnological processes for the production of PHA as a raw material for the production of bioplastics.
The polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthase gene of Comamonas acidovorans DS-17 (phaCCa) was cloned by using the synthase gene of Alcaligenes eutrophus as a heterologous hybridization probe. Complete sequencing of a 4.0-kbp SmaI-HindIII (SH40) subfragment revealed the presence of a 1,893-bp PHA synthase coding region which was followed by a 1,182-bp β-ketothiolase gene (phaACa). Both the translated products of these genes showed significant identity, 51.1 and 74.2%, respectively, to the primary structures of the products of the corresponding genes in A. eutrophus. The arrangement of PHA biosynthesis genes in C. acidovorans was also similar to that in A. eutrophus except that the third gene, phaB, coding for acetoacetyl-coenzyme A reductase, was not found in the region downstream of phaACa. The cloned fragment complemented a PHA-negative mutant of A. eutrophus, PHB−4, resulting in poly-3-hydroxybutyrate accumulation of up to 73% of the dry cell weight when fructose was the carbon source. The heterologous expression enabled the incorporation of 4-hydroxybutyrate (4HB) and 3-hydroxyvalerate monomers. The PHA synthase of C. acidovorans does not appear to show any preference for 4-hydroxybutyryl-coenzyme A as a substrate. This leads to the suggestion that in C. acidovorans, it is the metabolic pathway, and not the specificity of the organism’s PHA synthase, that drives the incorporation of 4HB monomers, resulting in the efficient accumulation of PHA with a high 4HB content.
The obligate predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus HD100 shows a large set of proteases and other hydrolases as part of its hydrolytic arsenal needed for its predatory life cycle. We present genetic and biochemical evidence that open reading frame (ORF) Bd3709 of B. bacteriovorus HD100 encodes a novel medium-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoate (mcl-PHA) depolymerase (PhaZBd). The primary structure of PhaZBd suggests that this enzyme belongs to the α/β-hydrolase fold family and has a typical serine hydrolase catalytic triad (serine-histidine-aspartic acid) in agreement with other PHA depolymerases and lipases. PhaZBd has been extracellularly produced using different hypersecretor Tol-pal mutants of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas putida as recombinant hosts. The recombinant PhaZBd has been characterized, and its biochemical properties have been compared to those of other PHA depolymerases. The enzyme behaves as a serine hydrolase that is inhibited by phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride. It is also affected by the reducing agent dithiothreitol and nonionic detergents like Tween 80. PhaZBd is an endoexohydrolase that cleaves both large and small PHA molecules, producing mainly dimers but also monomers and trimers. The enzyme specifically degrades mcl-PHA and is inactive toward short-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoates (scl-PHA) like polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). These studies shed light on the potentiality of these predators as sources of new biocatalysts, such as an mcl-PHA depolymerase, for the production of enantiopure hydroxyalkanoic acids and oligomers as building blocks for the synthesis of biobased polymers.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are intracellular reserve material stored by gram-negative bacteria under nutrient-limited condition. PHAs are utilized in biodegradable plastics (bio-plastics) synthesis due to their similarity with conventional synthetic plastic. In the present study, the effect of addition of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids (palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid) on the production of PHAs by the soil bacterium Alcaligenes sp. NCIM 5085 was studied. Fatty acid supplementation in basal media produced saturated and unsaturated PHAs of medium and short chain length. Gas chromatography analysis of palmitic acid-supplemented media showed the presence of short chain length (scl) PHAs which could potentially serve as precursors for bio-plastic production. The scl PHA was subsequently characterized as PHB by NMR and FTIR. On the other hand, oleic acid and linoleic acid addition showed both saturated and unsaturated PHAs of different chain lengths. Palmitic acid showed maximum PHB content of 70.8 % at concentration of 15 g l−1 under shake flask cultivation. When shake flask cultivation was scaled up in a 7.5-l bioreactor (working volume 3 l), 7.6 g l−1 PHA was produced with a PHB yield (YP/X) and productivity of 75.89 % and 0.14 g l−1 h, respectively.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs); Fatty acid supplementation; Bio-plastic; Characterization
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are polyoxoesters that are produced by many bacteria and that accumulate as intracellular granules. Phasins (PhaP) are proteins that accumulate during PHA synthesis, bind PHA granules, and promote further PHA synthesis. Interestingly, PhaP accumulation seems to be strictly dependent on PHA synthesis, which is catalyzed by the PhaC PHA synthase. Here we have tested the effect of the Ralstonia eutropha PhaR protein on the regulation of PhaP accumulation. R. eutropha strains with phaR, phaC, and/or phaP deletions were constructed, and PhaP accumulation was measured by immunoblotting. The wild-type strain accumulated PhaP in a manner dependent on PHA production, and the phaC deletion strain accumulated no PhaP, as expected. In contrast, both the phaR and the phaR phaC deletion strains accumulated PhaP to higher levels than did the wild type. This result implies that PhaR is a negative regulator of PhaP accumulation and that PhaR specifically prevents PhaP from accumulating in cells that are not producing PHA. Transfer of the R. eutropha phaR, phaP, and PHA biosynthesis (phaCAB) genes into a heterologous system, Escherichia coli, was sufficient to reconstitute the PhaR/PhaP regulatory system, implying that PhaR both regulates PhaP accumulation and responds to PHA directly. Deletion of phaR caused a decrease in PHA yields, and a phaR phaP deletion strain exhibited a more severe PHA defect than a phaP deletion strain, implying that PhaR promotes PHA production and does this at least partially through a PhaP-independent pathway. Models for regulatory roles of PhaR in regulating PhaP and promoting PHA production are presented.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable polymers produced by microbes to overcome environmental stress. Commercial production of PHAs is limited by the high cost of production compared to conventional plastics. Another hindrance is the brittle nature and low strength of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), the most widely studied PHA. The needs are to produce PHAs, which have better elastomeric properties suitable for biomedical applications, preferably from inexpensive renewable sources to reduce cost. Certain unique properties of Bacillus subtilis such as lack of the toxic lipo-polysaccharides, expression of self-lysing genes on completion of PHA biosynthetic process – for easy and timely recovery, usage of biowastes as feed enable it to compete as potential candidate for commercial production of PHA.