Genome scale metabolic model of the versatile methanotroph Methylocella silvestris

Sergio Bordel, Andrew T. Crombie, Raúl Muñoz, J. Colin Murrell

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BACKGROUND: Methylocella silvestris is a facultative aerobic methanotrophic bacterium which uses not only methane, but also other alkanes such as ethane and propane, as carbon and energy sources. Its high metabolic versatility, together with the availability of tools for its genetic engineering, make it a very promising platform for metabolic engineering and industrial biotechnology using natural gas as substrate. RESULTS: The first Genome Scale Metabolic Model for M. silvestris is presented. The model has been used to predict the ability of M. silvestris to grow on 12 different substrates, the growth phenotype of two deletion mutants (ΔICL and ΔMS), and biomass yield on methane and ethanol. The model, together with phenotypic characterization of the deletion mutants, revealed that M. silvestris uses the glyoxylate shuttle for the assimilation of C1 and C2 substrates, which is unique in contrast to published reports of other methanotrophs. Two alternative pathways for propane metabolism have been identified and validated experimentally using enzyme activity tests and constructing a deletion mutant (Δ1641), which enabled the identification of acetol as one of the intermediates of propane assimilation via 2-propanol. The model was also used to integrate proteomic data and to identify key enzymes responsible for the adaptation of M. silvestris to different substrates. CONCLUSIONS: The model has been used to elucidate key metabolic features of M. silvestris, such as its use of the glyoxylate shuttle for the assimilation of one and two carbon compounds and the existence of two parallel metabolic pathways for propane assimilation. This model, together with the fact that tools for its genetic engineering already exist, paves the way for the use of M. silvestris as a platform for metabolic engineering and industrial exploitation of methanotrophs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2020

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