The surface of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) storage granules in bacteria is covered mainly by proteins referred to as phasins. The layer of phasins stabilizes the granules and prevents coalescence of separated granules in the cytoplasm and nonspecific binding of other proteins to the hydrophobic surfaces of the granules. Phasin PhaP1Reu is the major surface protein of PHB granules in Ralstonia eutropha H16 and occurs along with three homologues (PhaP2, PhaP3, and PhaP4) that have the capacity to bind to PHB granules but are present at minor levels. All four phasins lack a highly conserved domain but share homologous hydrophobic regions. To identify the region of PhaP1Reu which is responsible for the binding of the protein to the granules, N-terminal and C-terminal fusions of enhanced green fluorescent protein with PhaP1Reu or various regions of PhaP1Reu were generated by recombinant techniques. The fusions were localized in the cells of various recombinant strains by fluorescence microscopy, and their presence in different subcellular protein fractions was determined by immunodetection of blotted proteins. The fusions were also analyzed to determine their capacities to bind to isolated PHB granules in vitro. The results of these studies indicated that unlike the phasin of Rhodococcus ruber, there is no discrete binding motif; instead, several regions of PhaP1Reu contribute to the binding of this protein to the surface of the granules. The conclusions are supported by the results of a small-angle X-ray scattering analysis of purified PhaP1Reu, which revealed that PhaP1Reu is a planar, triangular protein that occurs as trimer. This study provides new insights into the structure of the PHB granule surface, and the results should also have an impact on potential biotechnological applications of phasin fusion proteins and PHB granules in nanobiotechnology.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are polyoxoesters that are produced by diverse bacteria and that accumulate as intracellular granules. Phasins are granule-associated proteins that accumulate to high levels in strains that are producing PHAs. The accumulation of phasins has been proposed to be dependent on PHA production, a model which is now rigorously tested for the phasin PhaP of Ralstonia eutropha. R. eutropha phaC PHA synthase and phaP phasin gene replacement strains were constructed. The strains were engineered to express heterologous and/or mutant PHA synthase alleles and a phaP-gfp translational fusion in place of the wild-type alleles of phaC and phaP. The strains were analyzed with respect to production of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), accumulation of PhaP, and expression of the phaP-gfp fusion. The results suggest that accumulation of PhaP is strictly dependent on the genetic capacity of strains to produce PHB, that PhaP accumulation is regulated at the level of both PhaP synthesis and PhaP degradation, and that, within mixed populations of cells, PhaP accumulation within cells of a given strain is not influenced by PHB production in cells of other strains. Interestingly, either the synthesis of PHB or the presence of relatively large amounts of PHB in cells (>50% of cell dry weight) is sufficient to enable PhaP synthesis. The results suggest that R. eutropha has evolved a regulatory mechanism that can detect the synthesis and presence of PHB in cells and that PhaP expression can be used as a marker for the production of PHB in individual cells.
Phasins are proteins that are proposed to play important roles in polyhydroxyalkanoate synthesis and granule formation. Here the phasin PhaP of Ralstonia eutropha has been analyzed with regard to its role in the synthesis of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). Purified recombinant PhaP, antibodies against PhaP, and an R. eutropha phaP deletion strain have been generated for this analysis. Studies with the phaP deletion strain show that PhaP must accumulate to high levels in order to play its normal role in PHB synthesis and that the accumulation of PhaP to low levels is functionally equivalent to the absence of PhaP. PhaP positively affects PHB synthesis under growth conditions which promote production of PHB to low, intermediate, or high levels. The levels of PhaP generally parallel levels of PHB in cells. The results are consistent with models whereby PhaP promotes PHB synthesis by regulating the surface/volume ratio of PHB granules or by interacting with polyhydroxyalkanoate synthase and indicate that PhaP plays an important role in PHB synthesis from the early stages in PHB production and across a range of growth conditions.
Phasins (PhaP) are predominantly polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) granule-associated proteins that positively affect PHA synthesis. Recently, we reported that the phaR gene, which is located downstream of phaP in Paracoccus denitrificans, codes for a negative regulator involved in PhaP expression. In this study, DNase I footprinting revealed that PhaR specifically binds to two regions located upstream of phaP and phaR, suggesting that PhaR plays a role in the regulation of phaP expression as well as autoregulation. Many TGC-rich sequences were found in upstream elements recognized by PhaR. PhaR in the crude lysate of recombinant Escherichia coli was able to rebind specifically to poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate] [P(3HB)] granules. Furthermore, artificial P(3HB) granules and 3HB oligomers caused the dissociation of PhaR from PhaR-DNA complexes, but native PHA granules, which were covered with PhaP or other nonspecific proteins, did not cause the dissociation. These results suggest that PhaR is able to sense both the onset of PHA synthesis and the enlargement of the granules through direct binding to PHA. However, free PhaR is probably unable to sense the mature PHA granules which are already covered sufficiently with PhaP and/or other proteins. An in vitro expression experiment revealed that phaP expression was repressed by the addition of PhaR and was derepressed by the addition of P(3HB). Based on these findings, we present here a possible model accounting for the PhaR-mediated mechanism of PHA synthesis. Widespread distribution of PhaR homologs in short-chain-length PHA-producing bacteria suggests a common and important role of PhaR-mediated regulation of PHA synthesis.
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.
PhaR from Paracoccus denitrificans functions as a repressor or autoregulator of the expression of genes encoding phasin protein (PhaP) and PhaR itself, both of which are components of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) granules (A. Maehara, S. Taguchi, T. Nishiyama, T. Yamane, and Y. Doi, J. Bacteriol. 184:3992-4002, 2002). PhaR is a unique regulatory protein in that it also has the ability to bind tightly to an effector molecule, PHA polyester. In this study, by using a quartz crystal microbalance, we obtained direct evidence that PhaR binds to the target DNA and poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate] [P(3HB)], one of the PHAs, at the same time. To identify the PhaR amino acid residues responsible for DNA binding, deletion and PCR-mediated random point mutation experiments were carried out with the gene encoding the PhaR protein. PhaR point mutants with decreased DNA-binding abilities were efficiently screened by an in vivo monitoring assay system coupled with gene expression of green fluorescent protein in Escherichia coli. DNA-binding abilities of the wild-type and mutants of recombinant PhaR expressed in E. coli were evaluated using a gel shift assay and a surface plasmon resonance analysis. These experiments revealed that basic amino acids and a tyrosine in the N-terminal region, which is highly conserved among PhaR homologs, are responsible for DNA binding. However, most of the mutants with decreased DNA-binding abilities were unaffected in their ability to bind P(3HB), strongly suggesting that PhaR has two separate domains capable of binding to the target DNA and P(3HB).
Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthesis regulatory protein PhaR contains a DNA binding domain (DBD) and a PHA granule binding domain (GBD), it anchors to the promoter region of PHA granule-associated protein (PhaP) to repress phaP expression. However, PhaR will bind to PHB granules and be released from phaP promoter region when PHA granules are formed in vivo, initiating expression of phaP gene. Based on this regulatory mechanism, a bacterial two-hybrid system was developed: PhaR was separated into two parts: DBD was used to fuse with the bait, GBD with the prey, and phaP was replaced by a reporter gene lacZ. However, GBD protein expressed in vivo formed inclusion bodies. Thus, PhaP with strong binding ability to PHB granules was employed to replace GBD.
Three model interaction partners bFos, bJun and bATF2 were used to study the feasibility of this bacterial two-hybrid system compared with the controls lacking one or more essential elements of this system. Results showed that bFos, bJun and bATF2 bound tightly in pairs to allow strong expression of β-galactosidase in different expression levels. In contrast, very weak β-galactosidase activity was detected in all control groups.
β-Galactosidase activity level precisely correlated with the interaction force of tested protein pairs, and very weak β-galactosidase expression was detected throughout the control groups, which demonstrated the feasibility of this system for studying protein interactions.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are accumulated as intracellular granules by many bacteria under unfavorable conditions, enhancing their fitness and stress resistance. Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) is the most widespread and best-known PHA. Apart from the genes that catalyze polymer biosynthesis, natural PHA producers have several genes for proteins involved in granule formation and/or with regulatory functions, such as phasins, that have been shown to affect polymer synthesis. This study evaluates the effect of PhaP, a phasin, on bacterial growth and PHB accumulation from glycerol in bioreactor cultures of recombinant Escherichia coli carrying phaBAC from Azotobacter sp. strain FA8. Cells expressing phaP grew more, and accumulated more PHB, both using glucose and using glycerol as carbon sources. When cultures were grown in a bioreactor using glycerol, PhaP-bearing cells produced more polymer (2.6 times) and more biomass (1.9 times) than did those without the phasin. The effect of this protein on growth promotion and polymer accumulation is expected to be even greater in high-density cultures, such as those used in the industrial production of the polymer. The recombinant strain presented in this work has been successfully used for the production of PHB from glycerol in bioreactor studies, allowing the production of 7.9 g/liter of the polymer in a semisynthetic medium in 48-h batch cultures. The development of bacterial strains that can efficiently use this substrate can help to make the industrial production of PHAs economically feasible.
Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) granules are covered by a surface layer consisting of mainly phasins and other PHB granule-associated proteins (PGAPs). Phasins are small amphiphilic proteins that determine the number and size of accumulated PHB granules. Five phasin proteins (PhaP1 to PhaP5) are known for Ralstonia eutropha. In this study, we identified three additional potential phasin genes (H16_B1988, H16_B2296, and H16_B2326) by inspection of the R. eutropha genome for sequences with “phasin 2 motifs.” To determine whether the corresponding proteins represent true PGAPs, fusions with eYFP (enhanced yellow fluorescent protein) were constructed. Similar fusions of eYFP with PhaP1 to PhaP5 as well as fusions with PHB synthase (PhaC1), an inactive PhaC1 variant (PhaC1-C319A), and PhaC2 were also made. All fusions were investigated in wild-type and PHB-negative backgrounds. Colocalization with PHB granules was found for all PhaC variants and for PhaP1 to PhaP5. Additionally, eYFP fusions with H16_B1988 and H16_B2326 colocalized with PHB. Fusions of H16_B2296 with eYFP, however, did not colocalize with PHB granules but did colocalize with the nucleoid region. Notably, all fusions (except H16_B2296) were soluble in a ΔphaC1 strain. These data confirm that H16_B1988 and H16_B2326 but not H16_B2296 encode true PGAPs, for which we propose the designation PhaP6 (H16_B1988) and PhaP7 (H16_B2326). When localization of phasins was investigated at different stages of PHB accumulation, fusions of PhaP6 and PhaP7 were soluble in the first 3 h under PHB-permissive conditions, although PHB granules appeared after 10 min. At later time points, the fusions colocalized with PHB. Remarkably, PHB granules of strains expressing eYFP fusions with PhaP5, PhaP6, or PhaP7 localized predominantly near the cell poles or in the area of future septum formation. This phenomenon was not observed for the other PGAPs (PhaP1 to PhaP4, PhaC1, PhaC1-C319A, and PhaC2) and indicated that some phasins can have additional functions. A chromosomal deletion of phaP6 or phaP7 had no visible effect on formation of PHB granules.
This study demonstrated that engineered polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthases can be employed as molecular tools to covalently immobilize enzymes at the PHA granule surface. The β-galactosidase was fused to the N terminus of the class II PHA synthase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The open reading frame was confirmed to encode the complete fusion protein by T7 promoter-dependent overexpression. Restoration of PHA biosynthesis in the PHA-negative mutant of P. aeruginosa PAO1 showed a PHA synthase function of the fusion protein. PHA granules were isolated and showed β-galactosidase activity. PHA granule attached proteins were analyzed and confirmed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry. Surprisingly, the β-galactosidase-PHA synthase fusion protein was detectable at a high copy number at the PHA granule, compared with PHA synthase alone, which was barely detectable at PHA granules. Localization of the β-galactosidase at the PHA granule surface was confirmed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using anti-β-galactosidase antibodies. Treatment of these β-galactosidase-PHA granules with urea suggested a covalent binding of the β-galactosidase-PHA synthase to the PHA granule. The immobilized β-galactosidase was enzymologically characterized, suggesting a Michaelis-Menten reaction kinetics. A Km of 630 μM and a Vmax of 17.6 nmol/min for orthonitrophenyl-β-d-galactopyranoside as a substrate was obtained. The immobilized β-galactosidase was stable for at least several months under various storage conditions. This study demonstrated that protein engineering of PHA synthase enables the manufacture of PHA granules with covalently attached enzymes, suggesting an application in recycling of biocatalysts, such as in fine-chemical production.
PhaR which is a repressor protein for microbial polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) biosynthesis, is able to attach to bacterial PHA granules in vivo, was developed as an affinity tag for in vitro protein purification. Fusion of PhaR-tagged self-cleavable Ssp DnaB intein to the N-terminus of a target protein allowed protein purification with a pH and temperature shift. During the process, the target protein was released to the supernatant while PhaR-tagged intein was still immobilized on the PHA nanoparticles which were then separated by centrifugation.
Fusion protein PhaR-intein-target protein was expressed in recombinant Escherichia coli. The cell lysates after sonication and centrifugation were collected and then incubated with PHA nanoparticles to allow sufficient absorption onto the PHA nanoparticles. After several washing processes, self-cleavage of intein was triggered by pH and temperature shift. As a result, the target protein was released from the particles and purified after centrifugation. As target proteins, enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), maltose binding protein (MBP) and β-galactosidase (lacZ), were successfully purified using the PhaR based protein purification method.
The successful purification of EGFP, MBP and LacZ indicated the feasibility of this PhaR based in vitro purification system. Moreover, the elements used in this system can be easily obtained and prepared by users themselves, so they can set up a simple protein purification strategy by themselves according to the PhaR method, which provides another choice instead of expensive commercial protein purification systems.
Phasins (PhaP) are proteins normally associated with granules of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), a biodegradable polymer accumulated by many bacteria as a reserve molecule. These proteins enhance growth and polymer production in natural and recombinant PHB producers. It has been shown that the production of PHB causes stress in recombinant Escherichia coli, revealed by an increase in the concentrations of several heat stress proteins. In this work, quantitative reverse transcription (qRT)-PCR analysis was used to study the effect of PHB accumulation, and that of PhaP from Azotobacter sp. strain FA8, on the expression of stress-related genes in PHB-producing E. coli. While PHB accumulation was found to increase the transcription of dnaK and ibpA, the expression of these genes and of groES, groEL, rpoH, dps, and yfiD was reduced, when PhaP was coexpressed, to levels even lower than those detected in the non-PHB-accumulating control. These results demonstrated the protective role of PhaP in PHB-synthesizing E. coli and linked the effects of the protein to the expression of stress-related genes, especially ibpA. The effect of PhaP was also analyzed in non-PHB-synthesizing strains, showing that expression of this heterologous protein has an unexpected protective effect in E. coli, under both normal and stress conditions, resulting in increased growth and higher resistance to both heat shock and superoxide stress by paraquat. In addition, PhaP expression was shown to reduce RpoH protein levels during heat shock, probably by reducing or titrating the levels of misfolded proteins.
The polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) granule-associated proteins (PGAPs) are important for PHA synthesis and granule formation, but currently little is known about the haloarchaeal PGAPs. This study focused on the identification and functional analysis of the PGAPs in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei. These PGAPs were visualized with two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–tandem time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/TOF MS). The most abundant protein on the granules was identified as a hypothetical protein, designated PhaP. A genome-wide analysis revealed that the phaP gene is located upstream of the previously identified phaEC genes. Through an integrative approach of gene knockout/complementation and fermentation analyses, we demonstrated that this PhaP is involved in PHA accumulation. The ΔphaP mutant was defective in both PHA biosynthesis and cell growth compared to the wild-type strain. Additionally, transmission electron microscopy results indicated that the number of PHA granules in the ΔphaP mutant cells was significantly lower, and in most of the ΔphaP cells only a single large granule was observed. These results demonstrated that the H. mediterranei PhaP was the predominant structure protein (phasin) on the PHA granules involved in PHA accumulation and granule formation. In addition, BLASTp and phylogenetic results indicate that this type of PhaP is exclusively conserved in haloarchaea, implying that it is a representative of the haloarchaeal type PHA phasin.
Polyhydroxybutyrates (PHBs) are polyoxoesters generated from (R)3-hydroxybutyryl coenzyme A by PHB synthase. During the polymerization reaction, the polymers undergo a phase transition and generate granules. Wautersia eutropha can transiently accumulate PHB when it is grown in a nutrient-rich medium (up to 23% of the cell dry weight in dextrose-free tryptic soy broth [TSB]). PHB homeostasis under these growth conditions was examined by quantitative Western analysis to monitor the proteins present, their levels, and changes in their levels over a 48-h growth period. The proteins examined include PhaC (the synthase), PhaP (a phasin), PhaR (a transcription factor), and PhaZ1a, PhaZ1b, and PhaZ1c (putative intracellular depolymerases), as well as PhaZ2 (a hydroxybutyrate oligomer hydrolase). The results show that PhaC and PhaZ1a were present simultaneously. No PhaZ1b or PhaZ1c was detected at any time throughout growth. PhaZ2 was observed and exhibited an expression pattern different from that of PhaZ1a. The levels of PhaP changed dramatically and corresponded kinetically to the levels of PHB. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) provided the dimensions of the average cell and the average granule at 4 h and 24 h of growth (J. Tian, A. J. Sinskey, and J. Stubbe, J. Bacteriol. 187:3814-3824, 2005). This information allowed us to calculate the amount of each protein and number of granules per cell and the granule surface coverage by proteins. The molecular mass of PHB (106 Da) was determined by dynamic light scattering at 4 h, the time of maximum PHB accumulation. At this time, the surface area of the granules was maximally covered with PhaP (27 to 54%), and there were one or two PhaP molecules/PHB chain. The ratio of PHB chains to PhaC was ∼60, which required reinitiation of polymer formation on PhaC. The TEM studies of wild-type and ΔphaR strains in TSB provided further support for an alternative mechanism of granule formation (Tian et al., J. Bacteriol. 187:3814-3824, 2005).
A new protein immobilization and purification system has been developed based on the use of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs, or bioplastics), which are biodegradable polymers accumulated as reserve granules in the cytoplasm of certain bacteria. The N-terminal domain of the PhaF phasin (a PHA-granule-associated protein) from Pseudomonas putida GPo1 was used as a polypeptide tag (BioF) to anchor fusion proteins to PHAs. This tag provides a novel way to immobilize proteins in vivo by using bioplastics as supports. The granules carrying the BioF fusion proteins can be isolated by a simple centrifugation step and used directly for some applications. Moreover, when required, a practically pure preparation of the soluble BioF fusion protein can be obtained by a mild detergent treatment of the granule. The efficiency of this system has been demonstrated by constructing two BioF fusion products, including a functional BioF-β-galactosidase. This is the first example of an active bioplastic consisting of a biodegradable matrix carrying an active enzyme.
Polyhydroxyalkanoic acids (PHA) are carbon and energy storage polymers that accumulate in inclusion bodies in many bacteria and archaea in response to environmental conditions. This work presents the results of a study of PHA inclusion body-associated proteins and an analysis of their coding region in Bacillus megaterium 11561. A 7,917-bp fragment of DNA was cloned and shown to carry a 4,104-bp cluster of 5 pha genes, phaP, -Q, -R, -B, and -C. The phaP and -Q genes were shown to be transcribed in one orientation, each from a separate promoter, while immediately upstream, phaR, -B, and -C were divergently transcribed as a tricistronic operon. Transfer of this gene cluster to Escherichia coli and to a PhaC− mutant of Pseudomonas putida gave a Pha+ phenotype in both strains. Translational fusions to the green fluorescent protein localized PhaP and PhaC to the PHA inclusion bodies in living cells. The data presented are consistent with the hypothesis that the extremely hydrophilic protein PhaP is a storage protein and suggests that PHA inclusion bodies are not only a source of carbon, energy, and reducing equivalents but are also a source of amino acids.
The repressor protein PhaR, which is a component of poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate] granules, functions as a repressor of the gene expression of the phasin PhaP and of PhaR itself. We used a quartz crystal microbalance to investigate the binding behavior by which PhaR in Ralstonia eutropha H16 targets DNAs and amorphous poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate] thin films. Binding rate constants, dissociation rate constants, and dissociation constants of the binding of PhaR to DNA and to amorphous poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate] suggested that PhaR bind to both in a similar manner. On the basis of the binding rate constant values, we proposed that the phaP gene would be derepressed in harmony with the ratio of the concentration of the target DNA to the concentration of amorphous poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate] at the start of poly[(R)-3-hydroxybutyrate] synthesis in R. eutropha H16.
Polyhydroxyalkanoate; Autoregulator protein PhaR; Kinetic analysis; Ralstonia eutropha H16
Herbaspirillum seropedicae is a diazotrophic ß-Proteobacterium found associated with important agricultural crops. This bacterium produces polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), an aliphatic polyester, as a carbon storage and/or source of reducing equivalents. The PHB polymer is stored as intracellular insoluble granules coated mainly with proteins, some of which are directly involved in PHB synthesis, degradation and granule biogenesis. In this work, we have extracted the PHB granules from H. seropedicae and identified their associated-proteins by mass spectrometry. This analysis allowed us to identify the main phasin (PhaP1) coating the PHB granule as well as the PHB synthase (PhbC1) responsible for its synthesis. A phbC1 mutant is impaired in PHB synthesis, confirming its role in H. seropedicae. On the other hand, a phaP1 mutant produces PHB granules but coated mainly with the secondary phasin (PhaP2). Furthermore, some novel proteins not previously described to be involved with PHB metabolism were also identified, bringing new possibilities to PHB function in H. seropedicae.
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.
Bacillus megaterium can produce poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) as carbon and energy storage materials. We now report that the phaQ gene, which is located upstream of the phasin-encoding phaP gene, codes for a new class of transcriptional regulator that negatively controls expression of both phaQ and phaP. A PhaQ binding site that plays a role in this control has been identified by gel mobility shift assays and DNase I footprinting analysis. We have also provided evidence that PhaQ could sense the presence of PHB in vivo and that artificial PHB granules could inhibit the formation of PhaQ-DNA complex in vitro by binding to PhaQ directly. These suggest that PhaQ is a PHB-responsive repressor.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biologically produced polyesters that have potential application as biodegradable plastics. Especially important are the short-chain-length-medium-chain-length (SCL-MCL) PHA copolymers, which have properties ranging from thermoplastic to elastomeric, depending on the ratio of SCL to MCL monomers incorporated into the copolymer. Because of the potential wide range of applications for SCL-MCL PHA copolymers, it is important to develop and characterize metabolic pathways for SCL-MCL PHA production. In previous studies, coexpression of PHA synthase genes and the 3-ketoacyl-acyl carrier protein reductase gene (fabG) in recombinant Escherichia coli has been shown to enhance PHA production from related carbon sources such as fatty acids. In this study, a new fabG gene from Pseudomonas sp. 61-3 was cloned and its gene product characterized. Results indicate that the Pseudomonas sp. 61-3 and E. coli FabG proteins have different substrate specificities in vitro. The current study also presents the first evidence that coexpression of fabG genes from either E. coli or Pseudomonas sp. 61-3 with fabH(F87T) and PHA synthase genes can enhance the production of SCL-MCL PHA copolymers from nonrelated carbon sources. Differences in the substrate specificities of the FabG proteins were reflected in the monomer composition of the polymers produced by recombinant E. coli. SCL-MCL PHA copolymer isolated from a recombinant E. coli strain had improved physical properties compared to the SCL homopolymer poly-3-hydroxybutyrate. This study defines a pathway to produce SCL-MCL PHA copolymer from the fatty acid biosynthesis that may impact on PHA production in recombinant organisms.
Sinorhizobium meliloti cells store excess carbon as intracellular poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) granules that assist survival under fluctuating nutritional conditions. PHB granule-associated proteins (phasins) are proposed to regulate PHB synthesis and granule formation. Although the enzymology and genetics of PHB metabolism in S. meliloti have been well characterized, phasins have not yet been described for this organism. Comparison of the protein profiles of the wild type and a PHB synthesis mutant revealed two major proteins absent from the mutant. These were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) as being encoded by the SMc00777 (phaP1) and SMc02111 (phaP2) genes. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of proteins associated with PHB granules followed by MALDI-TOF confirmed that PhaP1 and PhaP2 were the two major phasins. Double mutants were defective in PHB production, while single mutants still produced PHB, and unlike PHB synthesis mutants that have reduced exopolysaccharide, the double mutants had higher exopolysaccharide levels. Medicago truncatula plants inoculated with the double mutant exhibited reduced shoot dry weight (SDW), although there was no corresponding reduction in nitrogen fixation activity. Whether the phasins are involved in a metabolic regulatory response or whether the reduced SDW is due to a reduction in assimilation of fixed nitrogen rather than a reduction in nitrogen fixation activity remains to be established.
The phasin PhaPAh from A. hydrophila strain 4AK4 was crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method.
Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) granule-associated proteins (phasins) were discovered in PHA-accumulating bacteria. They play a crucial role as a structural protein during initial PHA-granule formation and granule growth and also serve as interfaces for granule stabilization in vivo. The phasin PhaPAh from Aeromonas hydrophila strain 4AK4 was crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. Single crystals were cryocooled for X-ray diffraction analysis. The phasin crystals belonged to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 80.8, b = 108.9, c = 134.4 Å.
PHB; PHA; granule-associated proteins; phasins; polyhydroxyalkanoates; Aeromonas hydrophila
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 ability to generate tailor-made, functionalized polyester (polyhydroxyalkanoate, PHA) beads in bacteria by harnessing their natural carbon-storage granule production system is an exciting recent development. Proteins that naturally attach to the polyester granule core were rationally engineered to enable in vivo production of PHA beads which are applicable in bioseparation, protein purification, enzyme immobilization and diagnostics and which show advantageous properties toward the development of safe and efficient particulate vaccines. These beads are recombinantly produced as fully functional, insoluble polyester inclusions that can be easily separated from the cell. This simple one-step production of functionalized beads provides a tantalizing alternative to current commercial functional beads, for which proteins must be expressed, purified and then chemically attached to solid supports. The recent success in generating antigen-displaying PHA granules in the food-grade bacterium Lactococcus lactis capable of mediating protective immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection highlights the promise and flexibility of this new technology.
PHA synthase; PHA; PHB; bacterial inclusions; beads; biopolymer; bioseparation; polyester; polyhydroxyalkanoate; vaccines