Engineering the Salt-Inducible Ectoine Promoter Region of Halomonas elongata for Protein Expression in a Unique Stabilizing Environment.
ABSTRACT: It has been firmly established that organic osmolytes (compatible solutes) of halophilic Bacteria and Archaea have positive effects on conformation and activity of proteins, and may therefore improve their functional production. In particular, the amino acid derivative ectoine is known for its conformational stabilization, aggregation suppression, and radical protection properties. The natural producer and industrial production strain Halomonas elongata accumulates ectoine in the cytoplasm, and as a result offers a unique stabilizing environment for recombinant proteins. For the construction of broad hoast range vector systems with fluorescent reporter proteins, we chose the salt-inducible promoter region of the ectoine gene cluster (promA). A closer inspection of the genetic background revealed that its combination of sigma 38 (σ38) and sigma 70 (σ70) promoters was followed by a weak ribosomal binding site (RBS). This inspired a systematic approach for the construction of a promA-based vector series with a synthetic RBS region using the RBS Calculator v2.0, which resulted in a greatly improved salt-dependent expression-even in a deletion construct lacking the σ38 promoter. To expand the application range of this expression system, we looked further into the possible export of recombinant proteins into the periplasm. Both sec and tat leader sequences from H. elongata proved to be suitable for directed periplasmic transport into an extreme environment of freely selectable ionic strength.
Project description:The halophilic ?-proteobacterium Halomonas elongata DSM 2581(T) thrives at high salinity by synthesizing and accumulating the compatible solute ectoine. Ectoine levels are highly regulated according to external salt levels but the overall picture of its metabolism and control is not well understood. Apart from its critical role in cell adaptation to halophilic environments, ectoine can be used as a stabilizer for enzymes and as a cell protectant in skin and health care applications and is thus produced annually on a scale of tons in an industrial process using H. elongata as producer strain. This paper presents the complete genome sequence of H. elongata (4,061,296 bp) and includes experiments and analysis identifying and characterizing the entire ectoine metabolism, including a newly discovered pathway for ectoine degradation and its cyclic connection to ectoine synthesis. The degradation of ectoine (doe) proceeds via hydrolysis of ectoine (DoeA) to N?-acetyl-L-2,4-diaminobutyric acid, followed by deacetylation to diaminobutyric acid (DoeB). In H. elongata, diaminobutyric acid can either flow off to aspartate or re-enter the ectoine synthesis pathway, forming a cycle of ectoine synthesis and degradation. Genome comparison revealed that the ectoine degradation pathway exists predominantly in non-halophilic bacteria unable to synthesize ectoine. Based on the resulting genetic and biochemical data, a metabolic flux model of ectoine metabolism was derived that can be used to understand the way H. elongata survives under varying salt stresses and that provides a basis for a model-driven improvement of industrial ectoine production.
Project description:Salt tolerance in the ?-proteobacterium Halomonas elongata is linked to its ability to produce the compatible solute ectoine. The metabolism of ectoine production is of great interest since it can shed light on the biochemical basis of halotolerance as well as pave the way for the improvement of the biotechnological production of such compatible solute. Ectoine belongs to the biosynthetic family of aspartate-derived amino-acids. Aspartate is formed from oxaloacetate, thereby connecting ectoine production to the anaplerotic reactions that refill carbon into the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle). This places a high demand on these reactions and creates the need to regulate them not only in response to growth but also in response to extracellular salt concentration. In this work, we combine modeling and experiments to analyze how these different needs shape the anaplerotic reactions in H. elongata. First, the stoichiometric and thermodynamic factors that condition the flux distributions are analyzed, then the optimal patterns of operation for oxaloacetate production are calculated. Finally, the phenotype of two deletion mutants lacking potentially relevant anaplerotic enzymes: phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (Ppc) and oxaloacetate decarboxylase (Oad) are experimentally characterized. The results show that the anaplerotic reactions in H. elongata are indeed subject to evolutionary pressures that differ from those faced by other gram-negative bacteria. Ectoine producing halophiles must meet a higher metabolic demand for oxaloacetate and the reliance of many marine bacteria on the Entner-Doudoroff pathway compromises the anaplerotic efficiency of Ppc, which is usually one of the main enzymes fulfilling this role. The anaplerotic flux in H. elongata is contributed not only by Ppc but also by Oad, an enzyme that has not yet been shown to play this role in vivo. Ppc is necessary for H. elongata to grow normally at low salt concentrations but it is not required to achieve near maximal growth rates as long as there is a steep sodium gradient. On the other hand, the lack of Oad presents serious difficulties to grow at high salt concentrations. This points to a shared role of these two enzymes in guaranteeing the supply of oxaloacetate for biosynthetic reactions.
Project description:For osmoadaptation the halophilic bacterium Halomonas elongata synthesizes as its main compatible solute the aspartate derivative ectoine. H. elongata does not rely entirely on synthesis but can accumulate ectoine by uptake from the surrounding environment with the help of the osmoregulated transporter TeaABC. Disruption of the TeaABC-mediated ectoine uptake creates a strain that is constantly losing ectoine to the medium. However, the efflux mechanism of ectoine in H. elongata is not yet understood. H. elongata possesses four genes encoding mechanosensitive channels all of which belong to the small conductance type (MscS). Analysis by qRT-PCR revealed a reduction in transcription of the mscS genes with increasing salinity. The response of H. elongata to hypo- and hyperosmotic shock never resulted in up-regulation but rather in down-regulation of mscS transcription. Deletion of all four mscS genes created a mutant that was unable to cope with hypoosmotic shock. However, the knockout mutant grew significantly faster than the wildtype at high salinity of 2 M NaCl, and most importantly, still exported 80% of the ectoine compared to the wildtype. We thus conclude that a yet unknown system, which is independent of mechanosensitive channels, is the major export route for ectoine in H. elongata.
Project description:The halophilic bacterium Halomonas elongata synthesizes as its main compatible solute the aspartate derivative ectoine. We constructed a deletion mutant of H. elongata, KB1, defective in ectoine synthesis and tolerating elevated salt concentrations only in the presence of external compatible solutes. The dependency of KB1 on solute uptake for growth in high-salt medium was exploited to select insertion mutants unable to accumulate external solutes via osmoregulated transporters. One insertion mutant out of 7,200 failed to accumulate the osmoprotectants ectoine and hydroxyectoine. Genetic analysis of the insertion site proved that the mutation affected an open reading frame (ORF) of 1,281 bp (teaC). The nucleotide sequence upstream of teaC was determined, and two further ORFs of 603 bp (teaB) and 1,023 bp (teaA) were identified. Deletion of teaA and teaB proved that all three genes are mandatory for ectoine uptake. Sequence comparison showed significant identity of TeaA, TeaB, and TeaC to the transport proteins of the recently identified tripartite ATP-independent periplasmic transporter family (TRAP-T). The affinity of the cells for ectoines was determined (K(s) = 21.7 microM), suggesting that the transporter TeaABC exhibits high affinity for ectoines. An elevation of the external osmolarity resulted in a strong increase in ectoine uptake via TeaABC, demonstrating that this transporter is osmoregulated. Deletion of teaC and teaBC in the wild-type strain led to mutants which excreted significant amounts of ectoine into the medium when cultivated at high salt concentrations. Therefore, the physiological role of TeaABC may be primarily to recover ectoine leaking through the cytoplasmic membrane.
Project description:The formation of hydroxyectoine in the industrial ectoine producer Halomonas elongata was improved by the heterologous expression of the ectoine hydroxylase gene, thpD, from Streptomyces chrysomallus. The efficient conversion of ectoine to hydroxyectoine was achieved by the concerted regulation of thpD by the H. elongata ectA promoter.
Project description:Introduction:A halophilic bacterium of the Halomonas elongata BK-AG25 has successfully produced ectoine with high productivity. To overcome the drawbacks of high levels of salt in the production process, a nonhalophilic bacteria of Escherichia coli (E. coli) was used to express the ectoine gene cluster of the halophilic bacteria, and the production of ectoine by the recombinant cell was optimized. Methods:The ectoine gene cluster from the halophilic bacterium was isolated and inserted into an expression plasmid of pET30(a) and subsequently transformed into E. coli BL21 (DE3). Production of ectoine from the recombinant E. coli was investigated and then maximized by optimizing the level of nutrients in the medium, as well as the bioprocess conditions using response surface methodology. The experimental designs were performed using a central composite design. Results:The recombinant E. coli successfully expressed the ectoine gene cluster of Halomonas elongata BK-AG25 under the control of the T7 promoter. The recombinant cell was able to produce ectoine, of which most were excreted into the medium. The optimization of ectoine production with the response surface methodology showed that the level of salt in the medium, the incubation temperature, the optical density of the bacteria before induction, and the final concentration of the inducer gave a significant effect on ectoine production by the recombinant E. coli. Interestingly, the level of salt in the medium and the incubation temperature showed an inverse effect on the production of intracellular and extracellular ectoine by the recombinant cell. At the optimum conditions, the production yield was about 418?mg ectoine/g cdw (cell dry weight) after 12?hours of incubation. Conclusion:This study is the first report on the expression of an ectoine gene cluster of Halomonas elongata BK-AG25 in E. coli BL21, under the control of the T7 promoter. Optimization of the level of nutrients in the medium, as well as the bioprocess condition using response surface methodology, has successfully increased the production of ectoine by the recombinant bacteria.
Project description:The σ factor is a functionally obligatory subunit of the bacterial transcription machinery, the RNA polymerase. Bacteriophage-encoded small proteins that either modulate or inhibit the bacterial RNAP to allow the temporal regulation of bacteriophage gene expression often target the activity of the major bacterial σ factor, σ70. Previously, we showed that during Xanthomonas oryzae phage Xp10 infection, the phage protein P7 inhibits the host RNAP by preventing the productive engagement with the promoter and simultaneously displaces the σ70 factor from the RNAP. In this study, we demonstrate that P7 also inhibits the productive engagement of the bacterial RNAP containing the major variant bacterial σ factor, σ54, with its cognate promoter. The results suggest for the first time that the major variant form of the host RNAP can also be targeted by bacteriophage-encoded transcription regulatory proteins. Since the major and major variant σ factor interacting surfaces in the RNAP substantially overlap, but different regions of σ70 and σ54 are used for binding to the RNAP, our results further underscore the importance of the σ-RNAP interface in bacterial RNAP function and regulation and potentially for intervention by antibacterials.
Project description:The halophilic bacterium Halomonas elongata accumulates K+, glutamate, and the compatible solute ectoine as osmoprotectants. By functional complementation of Escherichia coli mutants defective in K+ uptake, we cloned three genes that are required for K+ uptake in H. elongata. Two adjacent genes, named trkA (1,374 bp) and trkH (1,449 bp), were identified on an 8.5-kb DNA fragment, while a third gene, called trkI (1,479 bp), located at a different site in the H. elongata chromosome, was found on a second 8.5-kb fragment. The potential protein expressed by trkA is similar to the cytoplasmic NAD+/NADH binding protein TrkA from E. coli, which is required for the activity of the Trk K+ uptake system. The deduced amino acid sequences of trkH and trkI showed significant identity to the transmembrane protein of Trk transporters. K+ transport experiments with DeltatrkH and DeltatrkI mutants of H. elongata revealed that TrkI exhibits a Km value of 1.12 mM, while the TrkH system has a half-saturation constant of 3.36 mM. Strain KB12, relying on TrkH alone, accumulated K+ with a lower Vmax and required a higher K+ concentration for growth in highly saline medium than the wild type. Strain KB15, expressing only TrkI, showed the same phenotype and the same K+ transport kinetics as the wild type, proving that TrkI is the main K+ transport system in H. elongata. In the absence of both transporters TrkH and TrkI, K+ accumulation was not detectable. K+ transport was also abolished in a trkA deletion mutant, indicating that TrkI and TrkH depend on one type of TrkA protein. Reverse transcriptase PCR experiments and Northern hybridization analyses of the trkAH locus revealed cotranscription of trkAH as well as a monocistronic transcript with only trkA.
Project description:Human-adapted Neisseria includes two pathogens, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis, and at least 13 species of commensals that colonize many of the same niches as the pathogens. The Type IV pilus plays an important role in the biology of pathogenic Neisseria. In these species, Sigma factor RpoD (?(70)), Integration Host Factor, and repressors RegF and CrgA regulate transcription of pilE, the gene encoding the pilus structural subunit. The Type IV pilus is also a strictly conserved trait in commensal Neisseria. We present evidence that a different mechanism regulates pilE transcription in commensals. Using Neisseria elongata as a model, we show that Sigma factor RpoN (?(54)), Integration Host Factor, and an activator we name Npa regulate pilE transcription. Taken in context with previous reports, our findings indicate pilE regulation switched from an RpoN- to an RpoD-dependent mechanism as pathogenic Neisseria diverged from commensals during evolution. Our findings have implications for the timing of Tfp expression and Tfp-mediated host cell interactions in these two groups of bacteria.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis expresses multicomponent organelles called type four pili (Tfp), which are key virulence factors required for attachment to human cells during carriage and disease. Pilin (PilE) is the main component of Tfp, and N. meningitidis isolates either have a class I pilE locus and express pilins that undergo antigenic variation or have a class II pilE locus and express invariant pilins. The transcriptional regulation of class I pilE has been studied in both N. meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, while the control of expression of class II pilE has been elucidated in the nonpathogenic species Neisseria elongata However, the factors that govern the regulation of the class II pilE gene in N. meningitidis are not known. In this work, we have bioinformatically and experimentally identified the class II pilE promoter. We confirmed the presence of conserved σ70 and σN-dependent promoters upstream of pilE in a collection of meningococcal genomes and demonstrated that class II pilE expression initiates from the σ70 family-dependent promoter. By deletion or overexpression of sigma factors, we showed that σN, σH, and σE do not affect class II pilin expression. These findings are consistent with a role of the housekeeping σD in expression of this important component of Tfp. Taken together, our data indicate that the σ-dependent network responsible for the expression of class II pilE has been selected to maintain pilE expression, consistent with the essential roles of Tfp in colonization and pathogenesis.IMPORTANCE The type four pilus (Tfp) of Neisseria meningitidis contributes to fundamental processes such as adhesion, transformation, and disease pathology. Meningococci express one of two distinct classes of Tfp (class I or class II), which can be distinguished antigenically or by the major subunit (pilE) locus and its genetic context. The factors that govern transcription of the class II pilE gene are not known, even though it is present in isolates that cause epidemic disease. Here we show that the transcription of class II pilE is maintained throughout growth and under different stress conditions and is driven by a σ70-dependent promoter. This is distinct from Tfp regulation in nonpathogenic Neisseria spp. and may confer an advantage during host-cell interaction and infection.