Publications

Abstract (Expand)

For adaptation between anaerobic, micro-aerobic and aerobic conditions Escherichia coli's metabolism and in particular its electron transport chain (ETC) is highly regulated. Although it is known that the global transcriptional regulators FNR and ArcA are involved in oxygen response it is unclear how they interplay in the regulation of ETC enzymes under micro-aerobic chemostat conditions. Also, there are diverse results which and how quinones (oxidised/reduced, ubiquinone/other quinones) are controlling the ArcBA two-component system. In the following a mathematical model of the E. coli ETC linked to basic modules for substrate uptake, fermentation product excretion and biomass formation is introduced. The kinetic modelling focusses on regulatory principles of the ETC for varying oxygen conditions in glucose-limited continuous cultures. The model is based on the balance of electron donation (glucose) and acceptance (oxygen or other acceptors). Also, it is able to account for different chemostat conditions due to changed substrate concentrations and dilution rates. The parameter identification process is divided into an estimation and a validation step based on previously published and new experimental data. The model shows that experimentally observed, qualitatively different behaviour of the ubiquinone redox state and the ArcA activity profile in the micro-aerobic range for different experimental conditions can emerge from a single network structure. The network structure features a strong feed-forward effect from the FNR regulatory system to the ArcBA regulatory system via a common control of the dehydrogenases of the ETC. The model supports the hypothesis that ubiquinone but not ubiquinol plays a key role in determining the activity of ArcBA in a glucose-limited chemostat at micro-aerobic conditions.

Authors: None

Date Published: 30th Sep 2014

Journal: PLoS One

Abstract (Expand)

Escherichia coli is a facultatively anaerobic bacterium. With glucose if no external electron acceptors are available, ATP is produced by substrate level phosphorylation. The intracellular redox balance is maintained by mixed-acid fermentation, that is, the production and excretion of several organic acids. When oxygen is available, E. coli switches to aerobic respiration to achieve redox balance and optimal energy conservation by proton translocation linked to electron transfer. The switch between fermentative and aerobic respiratory growth is driven by extensive changes in gene expression and protein synthesis, resulting in global changes in metabolic fluxes and metabolite concentrations. This oxygen response is determined by the interaction of global and local genetic regulatory mechanisms, as well as by enzymatic regulation. The response is affected by basic physical constraints such as diffusion, thermodynamics and the requirement for a balance of carbon, electrons and energy (predominantly the proton motive force and the ATP pool). A comprehensive systems level understanding of the oxygen response of E. coli requires the integrated interpretation of experimental data that are pertinent to the multiple levels of organization that mediate the response. In the pan-European venture, Systems Biology of Microorganisms (SysMO) and specifically within the project Systems Understanding of Microbial Oxygen Metabolism (SUMO), regulator activities, gene expression, metabolite levels and metabolic flux datasets were obtained using a standardized and reproducible chemostat-based experimental system. These different types and qualities of data were integrated using mathematical models. The approach described here has revealed a much more detailed picture of the aerobic-anaerobic response, especially for the environmentally critical microaerobic range that is located between unlimited oxygen availability and anaerobiosis.

Authors: Katja Bettenbrock, Hao Bai, Michael Ederer, Jeff Green, Klaas Hellingwerf, Michael Holcombe, S. Kunz, Matthew Rolfe, Guido Sanguinetti, Oliver Sawodny, Poonam Sharma, Sonja Steinsiek, Robert Poole

Date Published: 7th May 2014

Journal: Adv Microb Physiol

Abstract (Expand)

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.

Authors: Hao Bai, Matthew Rolfe, Wenjing Jia, S. Coakley, Robert Poole, Jeff Green, Michael Holcombe

Date Published: 24th Apr 2014

Journal: PLoS Comput Biol

Abstract (Expand)

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.

Authors: None

Date Published: 27th Mar 2014

Journal: Front Microbiol

Abstract (Expand)

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.

Authors: None

Date Published: 27th Jan 2014

Journal: PLoS One

Abstract (Expand)

Expression of the catabolic network in Escherichia coli is predominantly regulated, via oxygen availability, by the two-component system ArcBA. It has been shown that the kinase activity of ArcB is controlled by the redox state of two critical pairs of cysteines in dimers of the ArcB sensory kinase. Among the cellular components that control the redox state of these cysteines of ArcB are the quinones from the cytoplasmic membrane of the cell, which function in 'respiratory' electron transfer. This study is an effort to understand how the redox state of the quinone pool(s) is sensed by the cell via the ArcB kinase. We report the relationship between growth, quinone content, ubiquinone redox state, the level of ArcA phosphorylation, and the level of ArcA-dependent gene expression, in a number of mutants of E. coli with specific alterations in their set of quinones, under a range of physiological conditions. Our results provide experimental evidence for a previously formulated hypothesis that not only ubiquinone, but also demethylmenaquinone, can inactivate kinase activity of ArcB. Also, in a mutant strain that only contains demethylmenaquinone, the extent of ArcA phosphorylation can be modulated by the oxygen supply rate, which shows that demethylmenaquinone can also inactivate ArcB in its oxidized form. Furthermore, in batch cultures of a strain that contains ubiquinone as its only quinone species, we observed that the ArcA phosphorylation level closely followed the redox state of the ubiquinone/ubiquinol pool, much more strictly than it does in the wild type strain. Therefore, at low rates of oxygen supply in the wild type strain, the activity of ArcB may be inhibited by demethylmenaquinone, in spite of the fact that the ubiquinones are present in the ubiquinol form.

Authors: P. Sharma, S. Stagge, M. Bekker, K. Bettenbrock, K. J. Hellingwerf

Date Published: 7th Oct 2013

Journal: PLoS One

Abstract (Expand)

In Escherichia coli several systems are known to transport glucose into the cytoplasm. The main glucose uptake system under batch conditions is the glucose phosphoenolpyruvate:carbohydrate phosphotransferase system (glucose-PTS), but also the mannose-PTS, as well as the galactose and maltose transporters can translocate glucose. Mutant strains which lack the EIIBC protein of the glucose-PTS have been previously investigated because their lower rate of acetate formation offers advantages in industrial applications. Nevertheless, a systematic study to analyze the impact of the different glucose uptake systems has not been undertaken. Specifically, how the bacteria cope with the deletion of the major glucose uptake system and which alternative transporters react to compensate for this deficit has not been studied in detail. Therefore, a series of mutant strains were analyzed in aerobic and anaerobic batch cultures, as well as in glucose limited continuous cultivations. Deletion of EIIBC, disturbs glucose transport severely. cAMP-CRP levels rise, induction of the mgl-operon occurs. Nevertheless mgl transcription is not essential, as deletion of this transporter did not affect growth rate; the activities of the remaining transporters seems to be sufficient by induction of the galactose and maltose transporters. Despite the strong up-regulation of mgl under glucose limitations, deletion of this transport-system did not lead to further changes.

Authors: None

Date Published: 8th Oct 2012

Journal: Journal of Bacteriology

Abstract (Expand)

The respiratory chain of Escherichia coli contains three quinones. Menaquinone and demethylmenaquinone have low midpoint potentials and are involved in anaerobic respiration, while ubiquinone, which has a high midpoint potential, is involved in aerobic and nitrate respiration. Here, we report that demethylmenaquinone plays a role not only in trimethylaminooxide-, dimethylsulfoxide- and fumarate-dependent respiration, but also in aerobic respiration. Furthermore, we demonstrate that demethylmenaquinone serves as an electron acceptor for oxidation of succinate to fumarate, and that all three quinol oxidases of E. coli accept electrons from this naphtoquinone derivative.

Authors: Poonam Sharma, Joost Teixeira De Mattos, Klaas J. Hellingwerf, Martijn Bekker

Date Published: 1st Sep 2012

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Understanding gene regulation requires knowledge of changes in transcription factor (TF) activities. Simultaneous direct measurement of numerous TF activities is currently impossible. Nevertheless, statistical approaches to infer TF activities have yielded non-trivial and verifiable predictions for individual TFs. Here, global statistical modelling identifies changes in TF activities from transcript profiles of Escherichia coli growing in stable (fixed oxygen availabilities) and dynamic (changing oxygen availability) environments. A core oxygen-responsive TF network, supplemented by additional TFs acting under specific conditions, was identified. The activities of the cytoplasmic oxygen-responsive TF, FNR, and the membrane-bound terminal oxidases implied that, even on the scale of the bacterial cell, spatial effects significantly influence oxygen-sensing. Several transcripts exhibited asymmetrical patterns of abundance in aerobic to anaerobic and anaerobic to aerobic transitions. One of these transcripts, ndh, encodes a major component of the aerobic respiratory chain and is regulated by oxygen-responsive TFs ArcA and FNR. Kinetic modelling indicated that ArcA and FNR behaviour could not explain the ndh transcript profile, leading to the identification of another TF, PdhR, as the source of the asymmetry. Thus, this approach illustrates how systematic examination of regulatory responses in stable and dynamic environments yields new mechanistic insights into adaptive processes.

Authors: Matthew Rolfe, Andrea Ocone, Melanie R Stapleton, Simon Hall, Eleanor W Trotter, Robert Poole, Guido Sanguinetti, Jeff Green

Date Published: 8th Aug 2012

Journal: Open Biol

Abstract (Expand)

The respiratory chain of Escherichia coli contains three different cytochrome oxidases. Whereas the cytochrome bo oxidase and the cytochrome bd-I oxidase are well characterized and have been shown to contribute to proton translocation, physiological data suggested a nonelectrogenic functioning of the cytochrome bd-II oxidase. Recently, however, this view was challenged by an in vitro biochemical analysis that showed that the activity of cytochrome bd-II oxidase does contribute to proton translocation with an H(+)/e(-) stoichiometry of 1. Here, we propose that this apparent discrepancy is due to the activities of two alternative catabolic pathways: the pyruvate oxidase pathway for acetate production and a pathway with methylglyoxal as an intermediate for the production of lactate. The ATP yields of these pathways are lower than those of the pathways that have so far always been assumed to catalyze the main catabolic flux under energy-limited growth conditions (i.e., pyruvate dehydrogenase and lactate dehydrogenase). Inclusion of these alternative pathways in the flux analysis of growing E. coli strains for the calculation of the catabolic ATP synthesis rate indicates an electrogenic function of the cytochrome bd-II oxidase, compatible with an H(+)/e(-) ratio of 1. This analysis shows for the first time the extent of bypassing of substrate-level phosphorylation in E. coli under energy-limited growth conditions.

Authors: Poonam Sharma, Klaas J Hellingwerf, Maarten J Teixeira de Mattos, Martijn Bekker

Date Published: 27th Jul 2012

Journal: Appl. Environ. Microbiol.

Abstract (Expand)

Many of the complex systems found in biology are comprised of numerous components, where interactions between individual agents result in the emergence of structures and function, typically in a highly dynamic manner. Often these entities have limited lifetimes but their interactions both with each other and their environment can have profound biological consequences. We will demonstrate how modelling these entities, and their interactions, can lead to a new approach to experimental biology bringing new insights and a deeper understanding of biological systems.

Authors: Michael Holcombe, Salem Adra, Mesude Bicak, Shawn Chin, Simon Coakley, Alison Graham, Jeff Green, Chris Greenough, Duncan Jackson, Mariam Kiran, Sheila MacNeil, Afsaneh Maleki-Dizaji, Phil McMinn, Mark Pogson, Robert Poole, Eva Qwarnstrom, Francis Ratnieks, Matthew Rolfe, Rod Smallwood, Tao Sun, David Worth

Date Published: 2012

Journal: Integr Biol (Camb)

Abstract (Expand)

Many bacteria undergo transitions between environments with differing O₂ availabilities as part of their natural lifestyles and during biotechnological processes. However, the dynamics of adaptation when bacteria experience changes in O₂ availability are understudied. The model bacterium and facultative anaerobe Escherichia coli K-12 provides an ideal system for exploring this process.

Authors: Eleanor W Trotter, Matthew Rolfe, Andrea M Hounslow, C Jeremy Craven, Michael P Williamson, Guido Sanguinetti, Robert Poole, Jeff Green

Date Published: 27th Sep 2011

Journal: PLoS ONE

Abstract

Not specified

Authors: Sonja Steinsiek, S. Frixel, Stefan Stagge, Katja Bettenbrock

Date Published: 1st Jun 2011

Journal: Journal of Biotechnology

Abstract (Expand)

Oxygen availability is the major determinant of the metabolic modes adopted by Escherichia coli. Whilst much is known about E. coli gene expression and metabolism under fully aerobic and anaerobic conditions, the intermediate oxygen tensions that are encountered in natural niches are understudied. Here for the first time the transcript profiles of E. coli K-12 across the physiologically significant range of oxygen availabilities are described. These suggested a progressive switch to aerobic respiratory metabolism and a remodeling of the cell envelope as oxygen availability increased. The transcriptional responses were consistent with changes in the abundances of cytochrome bd and bo and outer membrane protein W. The observed transcript and protein profiles result from changes in the activities of regulators that respond to oxygen itself, or to metabolic and environmental signals that are sensitive to oxygen availability (aerobiosis). A probabilistic model (TFinfer) was used to predict the activity of the indirect oxygen-sensing two-component system ArcBA across the aerobiosis range. The model implied that the activity of the regulator ArcA correlated with aerobiosis, but not with the redox state of the ubiquinone pool, challenging the idea that ArcA activity is inhibited by oxidized ubiquinone. Measurement of the amount of phosphorylated ArcA correlated with the predicted ArcA activities and with aerobiosis, suggesting that fermentation product-mediated inhibition of ArcB phosphatase activity is the dominant mechanism for regulating ArcA activity under the conditions used here.

Authors: Matthew Rolfe, Alexander Ter Beek, Alison Graham, Eleanor W Trotter, H M Shahzad Asif, Guido Sanguinetti, Joost Teixeira De Mattos, Robert Poole, Jeff Green

Date Published: 22nd Jan 2011

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

SUMMARY: TFInfer is a novel open access, standalone tool for genome-wide inference of transcription factor activities from gene expression data. Based on an earlier MATLAB version, the software has now been extended in a number of ways. It has been significantly optimised in terms of performance, and it was given novel functionality, by allowing the user to model both time series and data from multiple independent conditions. With a full documentation and intuitive graphical user interface, together with an in-built data base of yeast and Escherichia coli transcription factors, the software does not require any mathematical or computational expertise to be used effectively. AVAILABILITY: http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/gsanguin/TFInfer.html CONTACT: gsanguin@staffmail.ed.ac.uk SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Authors: H M Shahzad Asif, Matthew Rolfe, Jeff Green, Neil D Lawrence, Magnus Rattray, Guido Sanguinetti

Date Published: 24th Aug 2010

Journal: Bioinformatics

Abstract (Expand)

Fumarate and nitrate reduction regulatory (FNR) proteins are bacterial transcription factors that coordinate the switch between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. In the absence of O(2), FNR binds a [4Fe-4S](2+) cluster (ligated by Cys-20, 23, 29, 122) promoting the formation of a transcriptionally active dimer. In the presence of O(2), FNR is converted into a monomeric, non-DNA-binding form containing a [2Fe-2S](2+) cluster. The reaction of the [4Fe-4S](2+) cluster with O(2) has been shown to proceed via a 2-step process, an O(2)-dependent 1-electron oxidation to yield a [3Fe-4S](+) intermediate with release of 1 Fe(2+) ion, followed by spontaneous rearrangement to the [2Fe-2S](2+) form with release of 1 Fe(3+) and 2 S(2-) ions. Here, we show that replacement of Ser-24 by Arg, His, Phe, Trp, or Tyr enhances aerobic activity of FNR in vivo. The FNR-S24F protein incorporates a [4Fe-4S](2+) cluster with spectroscopic properties similar to those of FNR. However, the substitution enhances the stability of the [4Fe-4S](2+) cluster in the presence of O(2). Kinetic analysis shows that both steps 1 and 2 are slower for FNR-S24F than for FNR. A molecular model suggests that step 1 of the FNR-S24F iron-sulfur cluster reaction with O(2) is inhibited by shielding of the iron ligand Cys-23, suggesting that Cys-23 or the cluster iron bound to it is a primary site of O(2) interaction. These data lead to a simple model of the FNR switch with physiological implications for the ability of FNR proteins to operate over different ranges of in vivo O(2) concentrations.

Authors: Adrian J Jervis, Jason C Crack, Gaye White, Peter J Artymiuk, Myles R Cheesman, Andrew J Thomson, Nick E Le Brun, Jeff Green

Date Published: 4th Mar 2009

Journal: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.

Abstract (Expand)

The concentration of molecular oxygen (O(2)) began to increase in the Earth's atmosphere approximately two billion years ago. Its presence posed a threat to anaerobes but also offered opportunities for improved energy conservation via aerobic respiration. The ability to sense environmental O(2) thus became, and remains, important for many bacteria, both for protection and switching between anaerobic and aerobic respiration. Utilizing an iron-sulfur cluster as the sensor of O(2) exploits the ability of O(2) to oxidize the iron-sulfur cluster, ultimately resulting in cluster disassembly. When utilizing heme as the sensor, the capacity of O(2) to form a reversible Fe-O(2) bond or alternatively the oxidation of the heme iron atom itself is used to detect O(2) and switch regulators between active and inactive forms.

Authors: Jeff Green, Jason C Crack, Andrew J Thomson, Nick E LeBrun

Date Published: 24th Feb 2009

Journal: Curr. Opin. Microbiol.

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