[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacteria such as Escherichia coli will often consume one sugar at a time when fed multiple sugars, in a process known as carbon catabolite repression. The classic example involves glucose and lactose, where E. coli will first consume glucose, and only when it has consumed all of the glucose will it begin to consume lactose. In addition to that of lactose, glucose also represses the consumption of many other sugars, including arabinose and xylose. In this work, we characterized a second hierarchy in E. coli, that between arabinose and xylose. We show that, when grown in a mixture of the two pentoses, E. coli will consume arabinose before it consumes xylose. Consistent with a mechanism involving catabolite repression, the expression of the xylose metabolic genes is repressed in the presence of arabinose. We found that this repression is AraC dependent and involves a mechanism where arabinose-bound AraC binds to the xylose promoters and represses gene expression. Collectively, these results demonstrate that sugar utilization in E. coli involves multiple layers of regulation, where cells will consume first glucose, then arabinose, and finally xylose. These results may be pertinent in the metabolic engineering of E. coli strains capable of producing chemical and biofuels from mixtures of hexose and pentose sugars derived from plant biomass.
Applied and environmental microbiology 12/2009; 76(5):1524-32. · 3.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transcriptional program for a gene consists of the promoter necessary for recruiting RNA polymerase along with neighboring operator sites that bind different activators and repressors. From a synthetic biology perspective, if the DNA-binding specificity of these proteins can be changed, then they can be used to reprogram gene expression in cells. While many experimental methods exist for generating such specificity-altering mutations, few computational approaches are available, particularly in the case of bacterial transcription factors. In a previously published computational study of nitrogen oxide metabolism in bacteria, a small number of amino-acid residues were found to determine the specificity within the CRP (cAMP receptor protein)/FNR (fumarate and nitrate reductase regulatory protein) family of transcription factors. By analyzing how these amino acids vary in different regulators, a simple relationship between the identity of these residues and their target DNA-binding sequence was constructed. In this article, we experimentally tested whether this relationship could be used to engineer novel DNA-protein interactions. Using Escherichia coli CRP as a template, we tested eight designs based on this relationship and found that four worked as predicted. Collectively, these results in this work demonstrate that comparative genomics can inform the design of bacterial transcription factors.
Nucleic Acids Research 04/2009; 37(8):2493-503. · 8.28 Impact Factor