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Metabolic deficiences revealed in the biotechnologically important model bacterium Escherichia coli BL21(DE3).

ABSTRACT: The Escherichia coli B strain BL21(DE3) has had a profound impact on biotechnology through its use in the production of recombinant proteins. Little is understood, however, regarding the physiology of this important E. coli strain. We show here that BL21(DE3) totally lacks activity of the four [NiFe]-hydrogenases, the three molybdenum- and selenium-containing formate dehydrogenases and molybdenum-dependent nitrate reductase. Nevertheless, all of the structural genes necessary for the synthesis of the respective anaerobic metalloenzymes are present in the genome. However, the genes encoding the high-affinity molybdate transport system and the molybdenum-responsive transcriptional regulator ModE are absent from the genome. Moreover, BL21(DE3) has a nonsense mutation in the gene encoding the global oxygen-responsive transcriptional regulator FNR. The activities of the two hydrogen-oxidizing hydrogenases, therefore, could be restored to BL21(DE3) by supplementing the growth medium with high concentrations of Ni²? (Ni²?-transport is FNR-dependent) or by introducing a wild-type copy of the fnr gene. Only combined addition of plasmid-encoded fnr and high concentrations of MoO?²? ions could restore hydrogen production to BL21(DE3); however, to only 25-30% of a K-12 wildtype. We could show that limited hydrogen production from the enzyme complex responsible for formate-dependent hydrogen evolution was due solely to reduced activity of the formate dehydrogenase (FDH-H), not the hydrogenase component. The activity of the FNR-dependent formate dehydrogenase, FDH-N, could not be restored, even when the fnr gene and MoO?²? were supplied; however, nitrate reductase activity could be recovered by combined addition of MoO?²? and the fnr gene. This suggested that a further component specific for biosynthesis or activity of formate dehydrogenases H and N was missing. Re-introduction of the gene encoding ModE could only partially restore the activities of both enzymes. Taken together these results demonstrate that BL21(DE3) has major defects in anaerobic metabolism, metal ion transport and metalloprotein biosynthesis.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC3149613 | BioStudies | 2011-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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