[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Small molecules generally activate or inhibit gene transcription as externally added substrates or as internally accumulated end-products, respectively. Rarely has a connection been made that links an intracellular intermediary metabolite as a signal of gene expression. We report that a perturbation in the critical step of a metabolic pathway--the D-galactose amphibolic pathway--changes the dynamics of the pathways leading to accumulation of the intermediary metabolite UDP-galactose. This accumulation causes cell stress and transduces signals that alter gene expression so as to cope with the stress by restoring balance in the metabolite pool. This underscores the importance of studying the global effects of alterations in the level of intermediary metabolites in causing stress and coping with it by transducing signals to genes to reach a stable state of equilibrium (homeostasis). Such studies are an essential component in the integration of metabolomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2009; 106(46):19515-20. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many physiological adjustments to nutrient changes involve ppGpp. Recent attempts to deduce ppGpp regulatory effects using proteomics or gene profiling can rigorously identify proteins or transcripts, but the functional significance is often unclear. Using a random screen for synthetic lethals we found a ppGpp-dependent functional pathway that operates through transketolase B (TktB), and which is 'buffered' in wildtype strain by the presence of an isozyme, transketolase A (TktA). Transketolase activity is required in cells to make erythrose-4-phosphate, a precursor of aromatic amino acids and vitamins. By studying tktB-dependent nutritional requirements as well as measuring activities using PtalA-tktB'-lacZ transcriptional reporter fusion, we show positive transcriptional regulation of the talA-tktB operon by ppGpp. Our results show the existence of RpoS-dependent and RpoS-independent modes of positive regulation by ppGpp. Both routes of activation are magnified by elevating ppGpp levels with a spoT mutation (spoT-R39A) defective in hydrolase but not synthetase activity or with the stringent suppressor mutations rpoB-A532Delta or rpoB-T563P in the absence of ppGpp.