Characterization of a Glycyl Radical Enzyme Bacterial Microcompartment Pathway in Rhodobacter capsulatus

Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are large (∼100-nm) protein shells that encapsulate enzymes, their substrates, and cofactors for the purposes of increasing metabolic reaction efficiency and protecting cells from toxic intermediates. The best-studied microcompartment is the carbon-fixing carboxysome that encapsulates ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase and carbonic anhydrase. Other well-known BMCs include the Pdu and Eut BMCs, which metabolize 1,2-propanediol and ethanolamine, respectively, with vitamin B$_{12}$-dependent diol dehydratase enzymes. Recent bioinformatic analyses identified a new prevalent type of BMC, hypothesized to utilize vitamin B$_{12}$-independent glycyl radical enzymes to metabolize substrates. Here we use genetic and metabolic analyses to undertake in vivo characterization of the newly identified glycyl radical enzyme microcompartment 3 (GRM3) class of microcompartment clusters. Transcriptome sequencing analyses showed that the microcompartment gene cluster in the genome of the purple photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter capsulatus was expressed under dark anaerobic respiratory conditions in the presence of 1,2-propanediol. High-performance liquid chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses showed that enzymes coded by this cluster metabolized 1,2-propanediol into propionaldehyde, propanol, and propionate. Surprisingly, the microcompartment pathway did not protect these cells from toxic propionaldehyde under the conditions used in this study, with buildup of this intermediate contributing to arrest of cell growth. We further show that expression of microcompartment genes is regulated by a two-component system located downstream of the microcompartment cluster.IMPORTANCE BMCs are protein shells that are designed to compartmentalize enzymatic reactions that require either sequestration of a substrate or the sequestration of toxic intermediates. Due to their ability to compartmentalize reactions, BMCs have also become attractive targets for bioengineering novel enzymatic reactions. Despite these useful features, little is known about the biochemistry of newly identified classes of BMCs. In this study, we have undertaken genetic and in vivo metabolic analyses of the newly identified GRM3 gene cluster.

Publication Date:
Dec 03 2018
Date Submitted:
Jun 28 2019
Journal of Bacteriology
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 Record created 2019-06-28, last modified 2019-07-24

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