Acrylate is produced in significant quantities through the microbial cleavage of the highly abundant marine osmoprotectant dimethylsulfoniopropionate, an important process in the marine sulfur cycle. Acrylate can inhibit bacterial growth, likely through its conversion to the highly toxic molecule acrylyl-CoA. Previous work identified an acrylyl-CoA reductase, encoded by the gene acuI, as being important for conferring on bacteria the ability to grow in the presence of acrylate. However, some bacteria lack acuI, and, conversely, many bacteria that may not encounter acrylate in their regular environments do contain this gene. We therefore sought to identify new genes that might confer tolerance to acrylate. To do this, we used functional screening of metagenomic and genomic libraries to identify novel genes that corrected an E. coli mutant that was defective in acuI, and was therefore hyper-sensitive to acrylate. The metagenomic libraries yielded two types of genes that overcame this toxicity. The majority encoded enzymes resembling AcuI, but with significant sequence divergence among each other and previously ratified AcuI enzymes. One other metagenomic gene, arkA, had very close relatives in Bacillus and related bacteria, and is predicted to encode an enoyl-acyl carrier protein reductase, in the same family as FabK, which catalyses the final step in fatty-acid biosynthesis in some pathogenic Firmicute bacteria. A genomic library of Novosphingobium, a metabolically versatile alphaproteobacterium that lacks both acuI and arkA, yielded vutD and vutE, two genes that, together, conferred acrylate resistance. These encode sequential steps in the oxidative catabolism of valine in a pathway in which, significantly, methacrylyl-CoA is a toxic intermediate. These findings expand the range of bacteria for which the acuI gene encodes a functional acrylyl-CoA reductase, and also identify novel enzymes that can similarly function in conferring acrylate resistance, likely, again, through the removal of the toxic product acrylyl-CoA.
|Publication status||Published - 21 May 2014|
- School of Biological Sciences - Professor of Environmental Microbiology
- Molecular Microbiology - Member
Person: Research Group Member, Academic, Teaching & Research