In the presence of oxygen (O2) the model bacterium Escherichia coli is able to conserve energy by aerobic respiration. Two major terminal oxidases are involved in this process - Cyo has a relatively … low affinity for O2 but is able to pump protons and hence is energetically efficient; Cyd has a high affinity for O2 but does not pump protons. When E. coli encounters environments with different O2 availabilities, the expression of the genes encoding the alternative terminal oxidases, the cydAB and cyoABCDE operons, are regulated by two O2-responsive transcription factors, ArcA (an indirect O2 sensor) and FNR (a direct O2 sensor). It has been suggested that O2-consumption by the terminal oxidases located at the cytoplasmic membrane significantly affects the activities of ArcA and FNR in the bacterial nucleoid. In this study, an agent-based modeling approach has been taken to spatially simulate the uptake and consumption of O2 by E. coli and the consequent modulation of ArcA and FNR activities based on experimental data obtained from highly controlled chemostat cultures. The molecules of O2, transcription factors and terminal oxidases are treated as individual agents and their behaviors and interactions are imitated in a simulated 3-D E. coli cell. The model implies that there are two barriers that dampen the response of FNR to O2, i.e. consumption of O2 at the membrane by the terminal oxidases and reaction of O2 with cytoplasmic FNR. Analysis of FNR variants suggested that the monomer-dimer transition is the key step in FNR-mediated repression of gene expression.
Date Published: 24th Apr 2014
Journal: PLoS Comput Biol
A mathematical model of metabolism and regulation provides a systems-level view of how Escherichia coli responds to oxygen
The efficient redesign of bacteria for biotechnological purposes, such as biofuel production, waste disposal or specific biocatalytic functions, requires a quantitative systems-level understanding of … energy supply, carbon, and redox metabolism. The measurement of transcript levels, metabolite concentrations and metabolic fluxes per se gives an incomplete picture. An appreciation of the interdependencies between the different measurement values is essential for systems-level understanding. Mathematical modeling has the potential to provide a coherent and quantitative description of the interplay between gene expression, metabolite concentrations, and metabolic fluxes. Escherichia coli undergoes major adaptations in central metabolism when the availability of oxygen changes. Thus, an integrated description of the oxygen response provides a benchmark of our understanding of carbon, energy, and redox metabolism. We present the first comprehensive model of the central metabolism of E. coli that describes steady-state metabolism at different levels of oxygen availability. Variables of the model are metabolite concentrations, gene expression levels, transcription factor activities, metabolic fluxes, and biomass concentration. We analyze the model with respect to the production capabilities of central metabolism of E. coli. In particular, we predict how precursor and biomass concentration are affected by product formation.
Date Published: 27th Mar 2014
Journal: Front Microbiol
The respiratory chain of E. coli is branched to allow the cells' flexibility to deal with changing environmental conditions. It consists of the NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductases NADH dehydrogenase I … and II, as well as of three terminal oxidases. They differ with respect to energetic efficiency (proton translocation) and their affinity to the different quinone/quinol species and oxygen. In order to analyze the advantages of the branched electron transport chain over a linear one and to assess how usage of the different terminal oxidases determines growth behavior at varying oxygen concentrations, a set of isogenic mutant strains was created, which lack NADH dehydrogenase I as well as two of the terminal oxidases, resulting in strains with a linear respiratory chain. These strains were analyzed in glucose-limited chemostat experiments with defined oxygen supply, adjusting aerobic, anaerobic and different microaerobic conditions. In contrast to the wild-type strain MG1655, the mutant strains produced acetate even under aerobic conditions. Strain TBE032, lacking NADH dehydrogenase I and expressing cytochrome bd-II as sole terminal oxidase, showed the highest acetate formation rate under aerobic conditions. This supports the idea that cytochrome bd-II terminal oxidase is not able to catalyze the efficient oxidation of the quinol pool at higher oxygen conditions, but is functioning mainly under limiting oxygen conditions. Phosphorylation of ArcA, the regulator of the two-component system ArcBA, besides Fnr the main transcription factor for the response towards different oxygen concentrations, was studied. Its phosphorylation pattern was changed in the mutant strains. Dephosphorylation and therefore inactivation of ArcA started at lower aerobiosis levels than in the wild-type strain. Notably, not only the micro- and aerobic metabolism was affected by the mutations, but also the anaerobic metabolism, where the respiratory chain should not be important.
Date Published: 27th Jan 2014
Journal: PLoS One