Evaluating the potential impact of proton carriers on syntrophic propionate oxidation.
ABSTRACT: Anaerobic propionic acid degradation relies on interspecies electron transfer (IET) between propionate oxidisers and electron acceptor microorganisms, via either molecular hydrogen, formate or direct transfers. We evaluated the possibility of stimulating direct IET, hence enhancing propionate oxidation, by increasing availability of proton carriers to decrease solution resistance and reduce pH gradients. Phosphate was used as a proton carrying anion, and chloride as control ion together with potassium as counter ion. Propionic acid consumption in anaerobic granules was assessed in a square factorial design with ratios (1:0, 2:1, 1:1, 1:2 and 0:1) of total phosphate (TP) to Cl(-), at 1X, 10X, and 30X native conductivity (1.5 mS.cm(-1)). Maximum specific uptake rate, half saturation, and time delay were estimated using model-based analysis. Community profiles were analysed by fluorescent in situ hybridisation and 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing. The strongest performance was at balanced (1:1) ratios at 10X conductivity where presumptive propionate oxidisers namely Syntrophobacter and Candidatus Cloacamonas were more abundant. There was a shift from Methanobacteriales at high phosphate, to Methanosaeta at low TP:Cl ratios and low conductivity. A lack of response to TP, and low percentage of presumptive electroactive organisms suggested that DIET was not favoured under the current experimental conditions.
Project description:Production of propionic acid by fermentation of propionibacteria has gained increasing attention in the past few years. However, biomanufacturing of propionic acid cannot compete with the current oxo-petrochemical synthesis process due to its well-established infrastructure, low oil prices and the high downstream purification costs of microbial production. Strain improvement to increase propionic acid yield is the best alternative to reduce downstream purification costs. The recent generation of genome-scale models for a number of Propionibacterium species facilitates the rational design of metabolic engineering strategies and provides a new opportunity to explore the metabolic potential of the Wood-Werkman cycle. Previous strategies for strain improvement have individually targeted acid tolerance, rate of propionate production or minimisation of by-products. Here we used the P. freudenreichii subsp. shermanii and the pan-Propionibacterium genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs) to simultaneously target these combined issues. This was achieved by focussing on strategies which yield higher energies and directly suppress acetate formation. Using P. freudenreichii subsp. shermanii, two strategies were assessed. The first tested the ability to manipulate the redox balance to favour propionate production by over-expressing the first two enzymes of the pentose-phosphate pathway (PPP), Zwf (glucose-6-phosphate 1-dehydrogenase) and Pgl (6-phosphogluconolactonase). Results showed a 4-fold increase in propionate to acetate ratio during the exponential growth phase. Secondly, the ability to enhance the energy yield from propionate production by over-expressing an ATP-dependent phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) and sodium-pumping methylmalonyl-CoA decarboxylase (MMD) was tested, which extended the exponential growth phase. Together, these strategies demonstrate that in silico design strategies are predictive and can be used to reduce by-product formation in Propionibacterium. We also describe the benefit of carbon dioxide to propionibacteria growth, substrate conversion and propionate yield.
Project description:We established a syntrophic coculture of <i>Syntrophobacter fumaroxidans</i> MPOB<sup>T</sup> (SF) and <i>Geobacter sulfurreducens</i> PCA<sup>T</sup> (GS) growing on propionate and Fe(III). Neither of the bacteria was capable of growth on propionate and Fe(III) in pure culture. Propionate degradation by SF provides acetate, hydrogen, and/or formate that can be used as electron donors by GS with Fe(III) citrate as electron acceptor. Proteomic analyses of the SF-GS coculture revealed propionate conversion <i>via</i> the methylmalonyl-CoA (MMC) pathway by SF. The possibility of interspecies electron transfer (IET) <i>via</i> direct (DIET) and/or hydrogen/formate transfer (HFIT) was investigated by comparing the differential abundance of associated proteins in SF-GS coculture against (i) SF coculture with <i>Methanospirillum hungatei</i> (SF-MH), which relies on HFIT, (ii) GS pure culture growing on acetate, formate, hydrogen as propionate products, and Fe(III). We noted some evidence for DIET in the SF-GS coculture, i.e., GS in the coculture showed significantly lower abundance of uptake hydrogenase (43-fold) and formate dehydrogenase (45-fold) and significantly higher abundance of proteins related to acetate metabolism (i.e., GltA; 62-fold) compared to GS pure culture. Moreover, SF in the SF-GS coculture showed significantly lower abundance of IET-related formate dehydrogenases, Fdh3 (51-fold) and Fdh5 (29-fold), and the rate of propionate conversion in SF-GS was 8-fold lower than in the SF-MH coculture. In contrast, compared to GS pure culture, we found lower abundance of pilus-associated cytochrome OmcS (2-fold) and piliA (5-fold) in the SF-GS coculture that is suggested to be necessary for DIET. Furthermore, neither visible aggregates formed in the SF-GS coculture, nor the pili-E of SF (suggested as e-pili) were detected. These findings suggest that the IET mechanism is complex in the SF-GS coculture and can be mediated by several mechanisms rather than one discrete pathway. Our study can be further useful in understanding syntrophic propionate degradation in bioelectrochemical and anaerobic digestion systems.
Project description:A new paradigm for cellulose depolymerization by fungi focuses on an oxidative mechanism involving cellobiose dehydrogenases (CDH) and copper-dependent lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMO); however, mechanistic studies have been hampered by the lack of structural information regarding CDH. CDH contains a haem-binding cytochrome (CYT) connected via a flexible linker to a flavin-dependent dehydrogenase (DH). Electrons are generated from cellobiose oxidation catalysed by DH and shuttled via CYT to LPMO. Here we present structural analyses that provide a comprehensive picture of CDH conformers, which govern the electron transfer between redox centres. Using structure-based site-directed mutagenesis, rapid kinetics analysis and molecular docking, we demonstrate that flavin-to-haem interdomain electron transfer (IET) is enabled by a haem propionate group and that rapid IET requires a closed CDH state in which the propionate is tightly enfolded by DH. Following haem reduction, CYT reduces LPMO to initiate oxygen activation at the copper centre and subsequent cellulose depolymerization.
Project description:Syntrophobacter fumaroxidans is a sulfate-reducing bacterium able to grow on propionate axenically or in syntrophic interaction with methanogens or other sulfate-reducing bacteria. We performed a proteome analysis of S. fumaroxidans growing with propionate axenically with sulfate or fumarate, and in syntrophy with Methanospirillum hungatei, Methanobacterium formicicum or Desulfovibrio desulfuricans. Special attention was put on the role of hydrogen and formate in interspecies electron transfer (IET) and energy conservation. Formate dehydrogenase Fdh1 and hydrogenase Hox were the main confurcating enzymes used for energy conservation. In the periplasm, Fdh2 and hydrogenase Hyn play an important role in reverse electron transport associated with succinate oxidation. Periplasmic Fdh3 and Fdh5 were involved in IET. The sulfate reduction pathway was poorly regulated and many enzymes associated with sulfate reduction (Sat, HppA, AprAB, DsrAB and DsrC) were abundant even at conditions where sulfate was not present. Proteins similar to heterodisulfide reductases (Hdr) were abundant. Hdr/Flox was detected in all conditions while HdrABC/HdrL was exclusively detected when sulfate was available; these complexes most likely confurcate electrons. Our results suggest that S. fumaroxidans mainly used formate for electron release and that different confurcating mechanisms were used in its sulfidogenic metabolism.
Project description:The flavocytochrome cellobiose dehydrogenase (CDH) is secreted by wood-decomposing fungi, and is the only known extracellular enzyme with the characteristics of an electron transfer protein. Its proposed function is reduction of lytic polysaccharide mono-oxygenase for subsequent cellulose depolymerization. Electrons are transferred from FADH2 in the catalytic flavodehydrogenase domain of CDH to haem b in a mobile cytochrome domain, which acts as a mediator and transfers electrons towards the active site of lytic polysaccharide mono-oxygenase to activate oxygen. This vital role of the cytochrome domain is little understood, e.g. why do CDHs exhibit different pH optima and rates for inter-domain electron transfer (IET)? This study uses kinetic techniques and docking to assess the interaction of both domains and the resulting IET with regard to pH and ions. The results show that the reported elimination of IET at neutral or alkaline pH is caused by electrostatic repulsion, which prevents adoption of the closed conformation of CDH. Divalent alkali earth metal cations are shown to exert a bridging effect between the domains at concentrations of > 3 mm, thereby neutralizing electrostatic repulsion and increasing IET rates. The necessary high ion concentration, together with the docking results, show that this effect is not caused by specific cation binding sites, but by various clusters of Asp, Glu, Asn, Gln and the haem b propionate group at the domain interface. The results show that a closed conformation of both CDH domains is necessary for IET, but the closed conformation also increases the FAD reduction rate by an electron pulling effect.
Project description:Mutations in human metabolic genes can lead to rare diseases known as inborn errors of human metabolism. For instance, patients with loss-of-function mutations in either subunit of propionyl-CoA carboxylase suffer from propionic acidemia because they cannot catabolize propionate, leading to its harmful accumulation. Both the penetrance and expressivity of metabolic disorders can be modulated by genetic background. However, modifiers of these diseases are difficult to identify because of the lack of statistical power for rare diseases in human genetics. Here, we use a model of propionic acidemia in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to identify genetic modifiers of propionate sensitivity. Using genome-wide association (GWA) mapping across wild strains, we identify several genomic regions correlated with reduced propionate sensitivity. We find that natural variation in the putative glucuronosyltransferase GLCT-3, a homolog of human B3GAT, partly explains differences in propionate sensitivity in one of these genomic intervals. We demonstrate that loss-of-function alleles in glct-3 render the animals less sensitive to propionate. Additionally, we find that C. elegans has an expansion of the glct gene family, suggesting that the number of members of this family could influence sensitivity to excess propionate. Our findings demonstrate that natural variation in genes that are not directly associated with propionate breakdown can modulate propionate sensitivity. Our study provides a framework for using C. elegans to characterize the contributions of genetic background in models of human inborn errors in metabolism.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis is an important human pathogen that is capable of killing within hours of infection. Its normal habitat is the nasopharynx of adult humans. Here we identify a genomic island (the prp gene cluster) in N. meningitidis that enables this species to utilize propionic acid as a supplementary carbon source during growth, particularly under nutrient poor growth conditions. The prp gene cluster encodes enzymes for a methylcitrate cycle. Novel aspects of the methylcitrate cycle in N. meningitidis include a propionate kinase which was purified and characterized, and a putative propionate transporter. This genomic island is absent from the close relative of N. meningitidis, the commensal Neisseria lactamica, which chiefly colonizes infants not adults. We reason that the possession of the prp genes provides a metabolic advantage to N. meningitidis in the adult oral cavity, which is rich in propionic acid-generating bacteria. Data from classical microbiological and sequence-based microbiome studies provide several lines of supporting evidence that N. meningitidis colonization is correlated with propionic acid generating bacteria, with a strong correlation between prp-containing Neisseria and propionic acid generating bacteria from the genus Porphyromonas, and that this may explain adolescent/adult colonization by N. meningitidis.
Project description:In this study we show increased biomass formation for four species of food-grade propionic acid bacteria (Acidipropionibacterium acidipropionici, Acidipropionibacterium jensenii, Acidipropionibacterium thoenii and Propionibacterium freudenreichii) when exposed to oxygen, implicating functional respiratory systems. Using an optimal microaerobic condition, P. freudenreichii DSM 20271 consumed lactate to produce propionate and acetate initially. When lactate was depleted propionate was oxidized to acetate. We propose to name the switch from propionate production to consumption in microaerobic conditions the 'propionate switch'. When propionate was depleted the 'acetate switch' occurred, resulting in complete consumption of acetate. Both growth rate on lactate (0.100 versus 0.078 h<sup>-1</sup> ) and biomass yield (20.5 versus 8.6 g* mol<sup>-1</sup> lactate) increased compared to anaerobic conditions. Proteome analysis revealed that the abundance of proteins involved in the aerobic and anaerobic electron transport chains and major metabolic pathways did not significantly differ between anaerobic and microaerobic conditions. This implicates that P. freudenreichii is prepared for utilizing O<sub>2</sub> when it comes available in anaerobic conditions. The ecological niche of propionic acid bacteria can conceivably be extended to environments with oxygen gradients from oxic to anoxic, so-called microoxic environments, as found in the rumen, gut and soils, where they can thrive by utilizing low concentrations of oxygen.
Project description:Several point mutations in the gene of human sulfite oxidase (hSO) result in isolated sulfite oxidase deficiency, an inherited metabolic disorder. Three conserved residues (H304, R309, K322) are hydrogen bonded to the phosphate group of the molybdenum cofactor, and the R309H and K322R mutations are responsible for isolated sulfite oxidase deficiency. The kinetic effects of the K322R mutation have been previously reported (Rajapakshe et al., Chem. Biodiversity, 2012, 9, 1621-1634); here we investigate several mutants of H304 and R309 by steady-state kinetics, laser flash photolysis studies of intramolecular electron transfer (IET), and spectroelectrochemistry. An unexpected result is that all of the mutants show decreased rates of IET but increased steady-state rates of catalysis. However, in all cases the rate of IET is greater than the overall turnover rate, showing that IET is not the rate determining step for any of the mutations.
Project description:Propionic Acidemia (PA) is a rare inherited metabolic disorder caused by the enzymatic block of propionyl-CoA carboxylase with the consequent accumulation of propionic acid, which is toxic for the brain and cardiac cells. Since a considerable amount of propionate is produced by intestinal bacteria, interest arose in the attempt to reduce propionate-producing bacteria through a monthly antibiotic treatment of metronidazole. In the present study, we investigated the gut microbiota structure of an infant diagnosed at 4 days of life through Expanded Newborn Screening (NBS) and treated the child following international guidelines with a special low-protein diet, specific medications and strict biochemical monitoring. Microbiota composition was assessed during the first month of life, and the presence of <i>Bacteroides fragilis,</i> known to be associated with propionate production, was effectively decreased by metronidazole treatment. After five antibiotic therapy cycles, at 4 months of age, the infant was supplemented with a daily mixture of three bifidobacterial strains, known not to be propionate producers. The supplementation increased the population of bifidobacteria, with <i>Bifidobacterium breve</i> as the dominating species; <i>Ruminococcus gnavus</i>, an acetate and formate producer, was also identified. Metabarcoding analysis, compared with low coverage whole metagenome sequencing, proved to capture all the microbial biodiversity and could be the elected tool for fast and cost-effective monitoring protocols to be implemented in the follow up of rare metabolic disorders such as PA. Data obtained could be a possible starting point to set up tailored microbiota modification treatment studies in the attempt to improve the quality of life of people affected by propionic acidemia.