Transcriptome Analysis of Polyhydroxybutyrate Cycle Mutants Reveals Discrete Loci Connecting Nitrogen Utilization and Carbon Storage in Sinorhizobium meliloti.
ABSTRACT: Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and glycogen polymers are produced by bacteria as carbon storage compounds under unbalanced growth conditions. To gain insights into the transcriptional mechanisms controlling carbon storage in Sinorhizobium meliloti, we investigated the global transcriptomic response to the genetic disruption of key genes in PHB synthesis and degradation and in glycogen synthesis. Under both nitrogen-limited and balanced growth conditions, transcriptomic analysis was performed with genetic mutants deficient in PHB synthesis (phbA, phbB, phbAB, and phbC), PHB degradation (bdhA, phaZ, and acsA2), and glycogen synthesis (glgA1). Three distinct genomic regions of the pSymA megaplasmid exhibited altered expression in the wild type and the PHB cycle mutants that was not seen in the glycogen synthesis mutant. An Fnr family transcriptional motif was identified in the upstream regions of a cluster of genes showing similar transcriptional patterns across the mutants. This motif was found at the highest density in the genomic regions with the strongest transcriptional effect, and the presence of this motif upstream of genes in these regions was significantly correlated with decreased transcript abundance. Analysis of the genes in the pSymA regions revealed that they contain a genomic overrepresentation of Fnr family transcription factor-encoding genes. We hypothesize that these loci, containing mostly nitrogen utilization, denitrification, and nitrogen fixation genes, are regulated in response to the intracellular carbon/nitrogen balance. These results indicate a transcriptional regulatory association between intracellular carbon levels (mediated through the functionality of the PHB cycle) and the expression of nitrogen metabolism genes. IMPORTANCE The ability of bacteria to store carbon and energy as intracellular polymers uncouples cell growth and replication from nutrient uptake and provides flexibility in the use of resources as they are available to the cell. The impact of carbon storage on cellular metabolism would be reflected in global transcription patterns. By investigating the transcriptomic effects of genetically disrupting genes involved in the PHB carbon storage cycle, we revealed a relationship between intracellular carbon storage and nitrogen metabolism. This work demonstrates the utility of combining transcriptome sequencing with metabolic pathway mutations for identifying underlying gene regulatory mechanisms.
Project description:Nitrogen is often a limiting nutrient in natural habitats. Therefore, cyanobacteria have developed multiple responses, which are controlled by transcription factor NtcA and the PII-signaling protein, to adapt to nitrogen deficiency. Transcriptional analyses of Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 under nitrogen-deficient conditions revealed a highly induced gene (sll0783) which is annotated as encoding a conserved protein with an unknown function. This gene is part of a cluster of seven genes and has potential NtcA-binding sites in the upstream region. Homologues of this cluster occur in some unicellular, nondiazotrophic cyanobacteria and in several Alpha, Beta-, and Gammaproteobacteria, as well as in some Gram-positive bacteria. Most of the heterotrophic bacteria harboring this gene cluster are able to fix nitrogen and to produce polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), whereas of the cyanobacteria, only Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 can accumulate PHB. In this work, a Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 sll0783 gene knockout mutant is characterized. This mutant is unable to accumulate PHB, a carbon and energy storage compound. In contrast, the levels of the carbon storage compound glycogen and the PHB precursor acetyl coenzyme A were similar to those of the wild type, indicating that the PHB-deficient phenotype does not likely result from a global deficiency in carbon metabolism. A specific deficiency in PHB synthesis was implied by the fact that the mutant exhibits impaired PHB synthase activity during prolonged nitrogen starvation. However, the expression of PHB synthase-encoding genes was not strongly affected in the mutant, suggesting that the impaired PHB synthase activity observed depends on a posttranscriptional process in which the product of sll0783 is involved.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Bradyrhizobium japonicum USDA110, a soybean symbiont, is capable of accumulating a large amount of poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) as an intracellular carbon storage polymer during free-living growth. Within the genome of USDA110, there are a number of genes annotated as paralogs of proteins involved in PHB metabolism, including its biosynthesis, degradation, and stabilization of its granules. They include two phbA paralogs encoding 3-ketoacyl-CoA thiolase, two phbB paralogs encoding acetoacetylCoA reductase, five phbC paralogs encoding PHB synthase, two phaZ paralogs encoding PHB depolymerase, at least four phaP phasin paralogs for stabilization of PHB granules, and one phaR encoding a putative transcriptional repressor to control phaP expression. RESULTS: Quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR analyses of RNA samples prepared from cells grown using three different media revealed that PHB accumulation was related neither to redundancy nor expression levels of the phbA, phbB, phbC, and phaZ paralogs for PHB-synthesis and degradation. On the other hand, at least three of the phaP paralogs, involved in the growth and stabilization of PHB granules, were induced under PHB accumulating conditions. Moreover, the most prominently induced phasin exhibited the highest affinity to PHB in vitro; it was able to displace PhaR previously bound to PHB. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that PHB accumulation in free-living B. japonicum USDA110 may not be achieved by controlling production and degradation of PHB. In contrast, it is achieved by stabilizing granules autonomously produced in an environment of excess carbon sources together with restricted nitrogen sources.
Project description:Classical microbial carbon polymers such as glycogen and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) have a crucial impact as both a sink and a reserve under macronutrient stress conditions. Most microbial species exclusively synthesize and degrade either glycogen or PHB. A few bacteria such as the phototrophic model organism Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 surprisingly produce both physico-chemically different polymers under conditions of high C to N ratios. For the first time, the function and interrelation of both carbon polymers in non-diazotrophic cyanobacteria are analyzed in a comparative physiological study of single- and double-knockout mutants (?glgC; ?phaC; ?glgC/?phaC), respectively. Most of the observed phenotypes are explicitly related to the knockout of glycogen synthesis, highlighting the metabolic, energetic, and structural impact of this process whenever cells switch from an active, photosynthetic 'protein status' to a dormant 'glycogen status'. The carbon flux regulation into glycogen granules is apparently crucial for both phycobilisome degradation and thylakoid layer disassembly in the presence of light. In contrast, PHB synthesis is definitely not involved in this primary acclimation response. Moreover, the very weak interrelations between the two carbon-polymer syntheses indicate that the regulation and role of PHB synthesis in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 is different from glycogen synthesis.
Project description:Differences in carbon assimilation pathways and reducing power requirements among organisms are likely to affect the role of the storage polymer poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB). Previous researchers have demonstrated that PHB functions as a sole growth substrate in aerobic cultures enriched on acetate during periods of carbon deficiency, but it is uncertain how C(1) metabolism affects the role of PHB. In the present study, the type II methanotroph Methylocystis parvus OBBP did not replicate using stored PHB in the absence of methane, even when all other nutrients were provided in excess. When PHB-rich cultures of M. parvus OBBP were deprived of carbon and nitrogen for 48 h, they did not utilize significant amounts of stored PHB, and neither cell concentrations nor concentrations of total suspended solids changed significantly. When methane and nitrogen both were present, PHB and methane were consumed simultaneously. Cells with PHB had significantly higher specific growth rates than cells lacking PHB. The addition of formate (a source of reducing power) to PHB-rich cells delayed PHB consumption, but the addition of glyoxylate (a source of C(2) units) did not. This and results from other researchers suggest that methanotrophic PHB metabolism is linked to the supply of reducing power as opposed to the supply of C(2) units for synthesis.
Project description:The ability of bacteria to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates such as poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) enables provision of a carbon storage molecule that can be mobilized under demanding physiological conditions. However, the precise function of PHB in cellular metabolism has not been clearly defined. In order to determine the impact of PHB production on global physiology, we have characterized the properties of a ?phaC1 mutant strain of the diazotrophic bacterium Herbaspirillum seropedicae. The absence of PHB in the mutant strain not only perturbs redox balance and increases oxidative stress, but also influences the activity of the redox-sensing Fnr transcription regulators, resulting in significant changes in expression of the cytochrome c-branch of the electron transport chain. The synthesis of PHB is itself dependent on the Fnr1 and Fnr3 proteins resulting in a cyclic dependency that couples synthesis of PHB with redox regulation. Transcriptional profiling of the ?phaC1 mutant reveals that the loss of PHB synthesis affects the expression of many genes, including approximately 30% of the Fnr regulon.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens USDA110 nodulates soybeans for nitrogen fixation. It accumulates poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), which is of physiological importance as a carbon/energy source for survival during starvation, infection, and nitrogen fixation conditions. PHB accumulation is orchestrated by not only the enzymes for PHB synthesis but also PHB-binding phasin proteins (PhaPs) stabilizing the PHB granules. The transcription factor PhaR controls the phaP genes. RESULTS:Inactivation of phaR led to decreases in PHB accumulation, less cell yield, increases in exopolysaccharide (EPS) production, some improvement in heat stress tolerance, and slightly better growth under microaerobic conditions. Changes in the transcriptome upon phaR inactivation were analyzed. PhaR appeared to be involved in the repression of various target genes, including some PHB-degrading enzymes and others involved in EPS production. Furthermore, in vitro gel shift analysis demonstrated that PhaR bound to the promoter regions of representative targets. For the phaP1 and phaP4 promoter regions, PhaR-binding sites were determined by DNase I footprinting, allowing us to deduce a consensus sequence for PhaR-binding as TGCRNYGCASMA (R: A or G, Y: C or T, S: C or G, M: A or C). We searched for additional genes associated with a PhaR-binding sequence and found that some genes involved in central carbon metabolism, such as pdhA for pyruvate dehydrogenase and pckA for phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, may be regulated positively and directly by PhaR. CONCLUSIONS:These results suggest that PhaR could regulate various genes not only negatively but also positively to coordinate metabolism holistically in response to PHB accumulation.
Project description:The symbiotic nitrogen-fixing soil bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti contains three replicons: pSymA, pSymB, and the chromosome. We report here the complete 1,354,226-nt sequence of pSymA. In addition to a large fraction of the genes known to be specifically involved in symbiosis, pSymA contains genes likely to be involved in nitrogen and carbon metabolism, transport, stress, and resistance responses, and other functions that give S. meliloti an advantage in its specialized niche.
Project description:Because cyanobacteria directly harvest CO2 and light energy, their carbon metabolism is important for both basic and applied sciences. Here, we show that overexpression of the sigma factor sigE in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 widely changes sugar catabolism and increases production of the biodegradable polyester polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) during nitrogen starvation. sigE overexpression elevates the levels of proteins implicated in glycogen catabolism, the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway, and polyhydroxyalkanoate biosynthesis. PHB accumulation is enhanced by sigE overexpression under nitrogen-limited conditions, yet the molecular weights of PHBs synthesized by the parental glucose-tolerant and sigE overexpression strain are similar. Although gene expression induced by nitrogen starvation is changed and other metabolites (such as GDP-mannose and citrate) accumulate under sigE overexpression, genetic engineering of this sigma factor altered the metabolic pathway from glycogen to PHB during nitrogen starvation.
Project description:Biological wastewater treatment processes under a dynamic regime with respect to carbon substrate can result in microbial storage of internal polymers (e.g., polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)) and their subsequent utilizations. These storage turnovers play important roles in nitrous oxide (N2O) accumulation during heterotrophic denitrification in biological wastewater treatment. In this work, a mathematical model is developed to evaluate the key role of PHB storage turnovers on N2O accumulation during denitrification for the first time, aiming to establish the key relationship between N2O accumulation and PHB storage production. The model is successfully calibrated and validated using N2O data from two independent experimental systems with PHB storage turnovers. The model satisfactorily describes nitrogen reductions, PHB storage/utilization, and N2O accumulation from both systems. The results reveal a linear relationship between N2O accumulation and PHB production, suggesting a substantial effect of PHB storage on N2O accumulation during denitrification. Application of the model to simulate long-term operations of a denitrifying sequencing batch reactor and a denitrifying continuous system indicates the feeding pattern and sludge retention time would alter PHB turnovers and thus affect N2O accumulation. Increasing PHB utilization could substantially raise N2O accumulation due to the relatively low N2O reduction rate when using PHB as carbon source.
Project description:Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a common carbon storage polymer among heterotrophic bacteria. It is also accumulated in some photoautotrophic cyanobacteria; however, the knowledge of how PHB accumulation is regulated in this group is limited. PHB synthesis in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 is initiated once macronutrients like phosphorus or nitrogen are limiting. We have previously reported a mutation in the gene sll0783 that impairs PHB accumulation in this cyanobacterium upon nitrogen starvation. In this study we present data which explain the observed phenotype. We investigated differences in intracellular localization of PHB synthase, metabolism, and the NADPH pool between wild type and mutant. Localization of PHB synthase was not impaired in the sll0783 mutant; however, metabolome analysis revealed a difference in sorbitol levels, indicating a more oxidizing intracellular environment than in the wild type. We confirmed this by directly measuring the NADPH/NADP ratio and by altering the intracellular redox state of wild type and sll0783 mutant. We were able to physiologically complement the mutant phenotype of diminished PHB synthase activity by making the intracellular environment more reducing. Our data illustrate that the NADPH pool is an important factor for regulation of PHB biosynthesis and metabolism, which is also of interest for potential biotechnological applications.