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  • Coordination of FocA and pyruvate formate-lyase synthesis in Escherichia coli demonstrates preferential translocation of formate over other mixed-acid fermentation products.

Coordination of FocA and pyruvate formate-lyase synthesis in Escherichia coli demonstrates preferential translocation of formate over other mixed-acid fermentation products.

Journal of bacteriology (2013-01-22)
Lydia Beyer, Claudia Doberenz, Dörte Falke, Doreen Hunger, Bernhard Suppmann, R Gary Sawers
ABSTRACT

Enterobacteria such as Escherichia coli generate formate, lactate, acetate, and succinate as major acidic fermentation products. Accumulation of these products in the cytoplasm would lead to uncoupling of the membrane potential, and therefore they must be either metabolized rapidly or exported from the cell. E. coli has three membrane-localized formate dehydrogenases (FDHs) that oxidize formate. Two of these have their respective active sites facing the periplasm, and the other is in the cytoplasm. The bidirectional FocA channel translocates formate across the membrane delivering substrate to these FDHs. FocA synthesis is tightly coupled to synthesis of pyruvate formate-lyase (PflB), which generates formate. In this study, we analyze the consequences on the fermentation product spectrum of altering FocA levels, uncoupling FocA from PflB synthesis or blocking formate metabolism. Changing the focA translation initiation codon from GUG to AUG resulted in a 20-fold increase in FocA during fermentation and an ∼3-fold increase in PflB. Nevertheless, the fermentation product spectrum throughout the growth phase remained similar to that of the wild type. Formate, acetate, and succinate were exported, but only formate was reimported by these cells. Lactate accumulated in the growth medium only in mutants lacking FocA, despite retaining active PflB, or when formate could not be metabolized intracellularly. Together, these results indicate that FocA has a strong preference for formate as a substrate in vivo and not other acidic fermentation products. The tight coupling between FocA and PflB synthesis ensures adequate substrate delivery to the appropriate FDH.

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