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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2003 Mar;61(1):61-8. Epub 2002 Dec 21.

Disparity between changes in mRNA abundance and enzyme activity in Corynebacterium glutamicum: implications for DNA microarray analysis.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The relationship between changes in mRNA abundance and enzyme activity was determined for three genes over a span of nearly 3 h during amino acid production in Corynebacterium glutamicum. Gene expression changes during C. glutamicum fermentations were examined by complementary DNA (cDNA) microarrays and by a second method for quantitating RNA levels, competitive reverse transcriptase-PCR (RT-PCR). The results obtained independently by both methods were compared and found to be in agreement, thus validating the quantitative potential of DNA microarrays for gene expression profiling. Evidence of a disparity between mRNA abundance and enzyme activity is presented and supports our belief that it is difficult to generally predict protein activity from quantitative transcriptome data. Homoserine dehydrogenase, threonine dehydratase, and homoserine kinase are enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of l-isoleucine and other aspartate-derived amino acids in C. glutamicum. Our data suggest that different underlying regulatory mechanisms may be connected with the expression of the genes encoding each of these three enzymes. Indeed, whereas in one case the increases in enzyme activity exceeded those in the corresponding mRNA abundance, in another case large increases in the levels of gene expression were not congruent with changes in enzyme activity.

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