Identifying the Metabolic Differences of a Fast-Growth Phenotype in Synechococcus UTEX 2973.
ABSTRACT: The photosynthetic capabilities of cyanobacteria make them interesting candidates for industrial bioproduction. One obstacle to large-scale implementation of cyanobacteria is their limited growth rates as compared to industrial mainstays. Synechococcus UTEX 2973, a strain closely related to Synechococcus PCC 7942, was recently identified as having the fastest measured growth rate among cyanobacteria. To facilitate the development of 2973 as a model organism we developed in this study the genome-scale metabolic model iSyu683. Experimental data were used to define CO2 uptake rates as well as the biomass compositions for each strain. The inclusion of constraints based on experimental measurements of CO2 uptake resulted in a ratio of the growth rates of Synechococcus 2973 to Synechococcus 7942 of 2.03, which nearly recapitulates the in vivo growth rate ratio of 2.13. This identified the difference in carbon uptake rate as the main factor contributing to the divergent growth rates. Additionally four SNPs were identified as possible contributors to modified kinetic parameters of metabolic enzymes and candidates for further study. Comparisons against more established cyanobacterial strains identified a number of differences between the strains along with a correlation between the number of cytochrome c oxidase operons and heterotrophic or diazotrophic capabilities.
Project description:Cyanobacteria are emerging as attractive organisms for sustainable bioproduction. We previously described Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973 as the fastest growing cyanobacterium known. Synechococcus 2973 exhibits high light tolerance and an increased photosynthetic rate and produces biomass at three times the rate of its close relative, the model strain Synechococcus elongatus 7942. The two strains differ at 55 genetic loci, and some of these loci must contain the genetic determinants of rapid photoautotrophic growth and improved photosynthetic rate. Using CRISPR/Cpf1, we performed a comprehensive mutational analysis of Synechococcus 2973 and identified three specific genes, atpA, ppnK, and rpaA, with SNPs that confer rapid growth. The fast-growth-associated allele of each gene was then used to replace the wild-type alleles in Synechococcus 7942. Upon incorporation, each allele successively increased the growth rate of Synechococcus 7942; remarkably, inclusion of all three alleles drastically reduced the doubling time from 6.8 to 2.3 hours. Further analysis revealed that our engineering effort doubled the photosynthetic productivity of Synechococcus 7942. We also determined that the fast-growth-associated allele of atpA yielded an ATP synthase with higher specific activity, while that of ppnK encoded a NAD+ kinase with significantly improved kinetics. The rpaA SNPs cause broad changes in the transcriptional profile, as this gene is the master output regulator of the circadian clock. This pioneering study has revealed the molecular basis for rapid growth, demonstrating that limited genetic changes can dramatically improve the growth rate of a microbe by as much as threefold.
Project description:Cyanobacteria are attractive microbial hosts for production of chemicals using light and CO2. However, their low productivity of chemicals is a major challenge for commercial applications. This is mostly due to their relatively slow growth rate and carbon partitioning toward biomass rather than products. Many cyanobacterial strains synthesize sucrose as an osmoprotectant to cope with salt stress environments. In this study, we harnessed the photosynthetic machinery of the fast-growing cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973 to produce sucrose under salt stress conditions and investigated if the high efficiency of photosynthesis can enhance the productivity of sucrose. By expressing the sucrose transporter CscB, Synechococcus 2973 produced 8?g?L-1 of sucrose with a highest productivity of 1.9?g?L-1 day-1 under salt stress conditions. The salt stress activated the sucrose biosynthetic pathway mostly via upregulating the sps gene, which encodes the rate-limiting sucrose-phosphate synthase enzyme. To alleviate the demand on high concentrations of salt for sucrose production, we further overexpressed the sucrose synthesis genes in Synechococcus 2973. The engineered strain produced sucrose with a productivity of 1.1?g?L-1 day-1 without the need of salt induction. The engineered Synechococcus 2973 in this study demonstrated the highest productivity of sucrose in cyanobacteria.
Project description:Cyanobacteria provide an interesting platform for biotechnological applications due to their efficient photoautotrophic growth, amenability to genetic engineering and the ability to grow on non-arable land. An ideal industrial strain of cyanobacteria would need to be fast growing and tolerant to high levels of temperature, light, carbon dioxide, salt and be naturally transformable. In this study, we report Synechococcus elongatus PCC 11801, a strain isolated from India that fulfills these requirements. The physiological and biochemical characteristics of PCC 11801 under carbon and light-limiting conditions were investigated. PCC 11801 shows a doubling time of 2.3?h, that is the fastest growth for any cyanobacteria reported so far under ambient CO2 conditions. Genome sequence of PCC 11801 shows genome identity of ~83% with its closest neighbors Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 and Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973. The unique attributes of PCC 11801 genome are discussed in light of the physiological characteristics that are needed in an industrial strain. The genome of PCC 11801 shows several genes that do not have homologs in neighbor strains PCC 7942 and UTEX 2973, some of which may be responsible for adaptation to various abiotic stresses. The remarkably fast growth rate of PCC 11801 coupled with its robustness and ease of genetic transformation makes it an ideal candidate for the photosynthetic production of fuels and chemicals.
Project description:Photosynthetic microbes are of emerging interest as production organisms in biotechnology because they can grow autotrophically using sunlight, an abundant energy source, and CO?, a greenhouse gas. Important traits for such microbes are fast growth and amenability to genetic manipulation. Here we describe Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973, a unicellular cyanobacterium capable of rapid autotrophic growth, comparable to heterotrophic industrial hosts such as yeast. Synechococcus UTEX 2973 can be readily transformed for facile generation of desired knockout and knock-in mutations. Genome sequencing coupled with global proteomics studies revealed that Synechococcus UTEX 2973 is a close relative of the widely studied cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942, an organism that grows more than two times slower. A small number of nucleotide changes are the only significant differences between the genomes of these two cyanobacterial strains. Thus, our study has unraveled genetic determinants necessary for rapid growth of cyanobacterial strains of significant industrial potential.
Project description:In response to a broad range of habitats and environmental stresses, cyanobacteria have evolved various effective acclimation strategies, which will be helpful for improving the stress tolerances of photosynthetic organisms, including higher plants. Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973 and PCC 7942 possess genomes that are 99.8% identical but exhibit significant differences in cell growth and stress tolerance. In this study, we found that a single amino acid substitution at FoF1 ATP synthase subunit α (AtpA), C252Y, is the primary contributor to the improved stress tolerance of S. elongatus UTEX 2973. Site-saturation mutagenesis experiments showed that point mutations of cysteine 252 to any of the four conjugated amino acids could significantly improve the stress tolerance of S. elongatus PCC 7942. We further confirmed that the C252Y mutation increases AtpA protein levels, intracellular ATP synthase activity, intracellular ATP abundance, transcription of psbA genes (especially psbA2), photosystem II activity, and glycogen accumulation in S. elongatus PCC 7942. This work highlights the importance of AtpA in improving the stress tolerance of cyanobacteria and provides insight into how cyanobacteria evolve via point mutations in the face of environmental selection pressures.IMPORTANCE Two closely related Synechococcus strains showed significantly different tolerances to high light and high temperature but limited genomic differences, providing us opportunities to identify key genes responsible for stress acclimation by a gene complementation approach. In this study, we confirmed that a single point mutation in the α subunit of FoF1 ATP synthase (AtpA) contributes mainly to the improved stress tolerance of Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973. The point mutation of AtpA, the important ATP-generating complex of photosynthesis, increases AtpA protein levels, intracellular ATP synthase activity, and ATP concentrations under heat stress, as well as photosystem II activity. This work proves the importance of ATP synthase in cyanobacterial stress acclimation and provides a good target for future improvement of cyanobacterial stress tolerance by metabolic engineering.
Project description:Background:Cyanobacterial carbohydrates, such as sucrose, have been considered as potential renewable feedstock to support the production of fuels and chemicals. However, the separation and purification processes of these carbohydrates will increase the production cost of chemicals. Co-culture fermentation has been proposed as an efficient and economical way to utilize these cyanobacterial carbohydrates. However, studies on the application of co-culture systems to achieve green biosynthesis of platform chemicals are still rare. Results:In this study, we successfully achieved one-step conversion of sucrose derived from cyanobacteria to fine chemicals by constructing a microbial consortium consisting of the fast-growing cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973 and Escherichia coli to sequentially produce sucrose and then the platform chemical 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) from CO2 under photoautotrophic growth conditions. First, efforts were made to overexpress the sucrose permease-coding gene cscB under the strong promoter P cpc560 in S. elongatus UTEX 2973 for efficient sucrose secretion. Second, the sucrose catabolic pathway and malonyl-CoA-dependent 3-HP biosynthetic pathway were introduced into E. coli BL21 (DE3) for heterologous biosynthesis of 3-HP from sucrose. By optimizing the cultivation temperature from 37 to 30 °C, a stable artificial consortium system was constructed with the capability of producing 3-HP at up to 68.29 mg/L directly from CO2. In addition, cell growth of S. elongatus UTEX 2973 in the consortium was enhanced, probably due to the quick quenching of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the system by E. coli, which in turn improved the photosynthesis of cyanobacteria. Conclusion:The study demonstrated the feasibility of the one-step conversion of sucrose to fine chemicals using an artificial consortium system. The study also confirmed that heterotrophic bacteria could promote the cell growth of cyanobacteria by relieving oxidative stress in this microbial consortium, which further suggests the potential value of this system for future industrial applications.
Project description:Cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942 and Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 show similar changes in the metabolic response to changed CO2 conditions but exhibit significant differences at the transcriptomic level. This study employs a systems biology approach to investigate the difference in metabolic regulation of Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942 and Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Presented multi-level kinetic model for Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 is a new approach integrating and analysing metabolomic, transcriptomic and fluxomics data obtained under high and ambient CO2 levels. Modelling analysis revealed that higher number of different isozymes in Synechocystis 6803 improves homeostatic stability of several metabolites, especially 3PGA by 275%, against changes in gene expression, compared to Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942. Furthermore, both cyanobacteria have the same amount of phosphoglycerate mutases but Synechocystis 6803 exhibits only ~20% differences in their mRNA levels after shifts from high to ambient CO2 level, in comparison to ~500% differences in the case of Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942. These and other data imply that the biochemical control dominates over transcriptional regulation in Synechocystis 6803 to acclimate central carbon metabolism in the environment of variable inorganic carbon availability without extra cost carried by large changes in the proteome.
Project description:The fast-growing cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973 (Syn2973) is a promising candidate for photosynthetic microbial factory. Seawater utilization is necessary for large-scale cultivation of Syn2973 in the future. However, Syn2973 is sensitive to salt stress, making it necessary to improve its salt tolerance. In this study, 21 exogenous putative transporters were individually overexpressed in Syn2973 to evaluate their effects on salt tolerance. The results showed the overexpression of three Mrp antiporters significantly improved the salt tolerance of Syn2973. Notably, overexpressing the Mrp antiporter from Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 improved cell growth by 57.7% under 0.4 M NaCl condition. In addition, the metabolomics and biomass composition analyses revealed the possible mechanisms against salt stress in both Syn2973 and the genetically engineered strain. The study provides important engineering strategies to improve salt tolerance of Syn2973 and is valuable for understanding mechanisms of salt tolerance in cyanobacteria.
Project description:Phycobilisomes (PBSs) are large (3-5 megadalton) pigment-protein complexes in cyanobacteria that associate with thylakoid membranes and harvest light primarily for photosystem II. PBSs consist of highly ordered assemblies of pigmented phycobiliproteins (PBPs) and linker proteins that can account for up to half of the soluble protein in cells. Cyanobacteria adjust to changing environmental conditions by modulating PBS size and number. In response to nutrient depletion such as nitrogen (N) deprivation, PBSs are degraded in an extensive, tightly controlled, and reversible process. In Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973, a fast-growing cyanobacterium with a doubling time of two hours, the process of PBS degradation is very rapid, with 80% of PBSs per cell degraded in six hours under optimal light and CO2 conditions. Proteomic analysis during PBS degradation and re-synthesis revealed multiple proteoforms of PBPs with partially degraded phycocyanobilin (PCB) pigments. NblA, a small proteolysis adaptor essential for PBS degradation, was characterized and validated with targeted mass spectrometry. NblA levels rose from essentially 0 to 25,000 copies per cell within 30 min of N depletion, and correlated with the rate of decrease in phycocyanin (PC). Implications of this correlation on the overall mechanism of PBS degradation during N deprivation are discussed.
Project description:Background:Cyanobacteria have shown promising potential for the production of various biofuels and chemical feedstocks. Synechococcus elongatus UTEX 2973 is a fast-growing strain with pronounced tolerance to high temperatures and illumination. Hence, this strain appears to be ideal for the development of photosynthetic biotechnology. However, molecular insights on how this strain can rapidly accumulate biomass and carbohydrates under high-light and high-temperature conditions are lacking. Results:Differential RNA-Sequencing (dRNA-Seq) enabled the genome-wide identification of 4808 transcription start sites (TSSs) in S. elongatus UTEX 2973 using a background reduction algorithm. High light promoted the transcription of genes associated with central metabolic pathways, whereas the highly induced small RNA (sRNA) PsrR1 likely contributed to the repression of phycobilisome genes and the accelerated glycogen accumulation rates measured under this condition. Darkness caused transcriptome remodeling with a decline in the expression of genes for carbon fixation and other major metabolic pathways and an increase in the expression of genes for glycogen catabolism and Calvin cycle inhibitor CP12. Two of the identified TSSs drive the transcription of highly abundant sRNAs in darkness. One of them is widely conserved throughout the cyanobacterial phylum. Its gene is fused to a protein-coding gene in some species, illustrating the evolutionary origin of sRNAs from an mRNA 3'-end. Conclusions:Our comprehensive set of genome-wide mapped TSSs, sRNAs and promoter activities will be valuable for projects requiring precise information about the control of transcription aimed at metabolic engineering and the elucidation of stress acclimation mechanisms in this promising strain.