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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2002 Sep 5;79(5):558-67.

Intracellular expression of Vitreoscilla hemoglobin modifies microaerobic Escherichia coli metabolism through elevated concentration and specific activity of cytochrome o.

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  • 1Institute of Biotechnology, ETH-Zürich, Switzerland.


The function of the reversible oxygen-binding hemoprotein from Vitreoscilla (VHb), which enhances oxygen-limited cell growth and recombinant protein production when functionally expressed in Escherichia coli, was investigated in wild-type E. coli and in E. coli mutants lacking one of the two terminal oxidases, cytochrome o complex (aerobic terminal oxidase, Cyo) or cytochrome d complex (microaerobic terminal oxidase, Cyd). Deconvolution of VHb, cytochrome o, and cytochrome d bands from in vivo absorption spectra revealed a 5-fold enhancement in cytochrome o content and a 1.5-fold increment in cytochrome d by VHb under microaerobic environments (dissolved oxygen less than 2% air saturation). Based upon oxygen uptake kinetics measurements of these mutants, the apparent oxygen affinity of the Cyo(+), Cyd(-) E. coli was increased in the presence of VHb, but no difference in the apparent K(m) was observed for the Cyo(-), Cyd(+) strain. Results suggest that the expression of VHb in E. coli increases the level and activity of terminal oxidases and thereby improves the efficiency of microaerobic respiration and growth.

Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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