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Metab Eng. 2001 Apr;3(2):115-23.

The effects of feed and intracellular pyruvate levels on the redistribution of metabolic fluxes in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77251-1892, USA.


In a previous study, an Escherichia coli strain lacking the key enzymes (acetate kinase and phosphotransacetylase, ACK-PTA) of the major acetate synthesis pathways reduced acetate accumulation. The ackA-pta mutant strain also exhibits an increased lactate synthesis rate. Metabolic flux analysis suggested that the majority of excessive carbon flux was redirected through the lactate formation pathway rather than the ethanol synthesis pathway. This result indicated that lactate dehydrogenase may be competitive at the pyruvate node. However, a 10-fold overexpression of the fermentative lactate dehydrogenase (ldhA) gene in the wild-type parent GJT001 was not able to divert carbon flux from acetate. The carbon flux through pyruvate and all its end products increases at the expense of flux through biosynthesis and succinate. Intracellular pyruvate measurements showed that strains overexpressing lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) depleted the pyruvate pool. This observation along with the observed excretion of pyruvate in the ackA-pta strain indicates the significance of intracellular pyruvate pools. In the current study, we focus on the role of the intracellular pyruvate pool in the redirection of metabolic fluxes at this important node. An increasing level of extracellular pyruvate leads to an increase in the intracellular pyruvate pool. This increase in intracellular pyruvate affects carbon flux distribution at the pyruvate node. Partitioning of the carbon flux to acetate at the expense of ethanol occurs at the acetyl-CoA node while partitioning at the pyruvate node favors lactate formation. The increased competitiveness of the lactate pathway may be due to the allosteric activation of LDH as a result of increased pyruvate levels. The interaction between the reactions catalyzed by the enzymes PFL (pyruvate formate lyase) and LDH was examined.

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