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J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 2008;15(4):222-33. Epub 2007 Aug 13.

Ethanol catabolism in Corynebacterium glutamicum.

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Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


Corynebacterium glutamicum grows on a variety of carbohydrates and organic acids as single or combined sources of carbon and energy. Here we show the ability of C. glutamicum to grow on ethanol with growth rates up to 0.24 h(-1) and biomass yields up to 0.47 g dry weight (g ethanol)(-1). Mutants of C. glutamicum deficient in phosphotransacetylase (PTA), isocitrate lyase (ICL) and malate synthase (MS) were unable to grow on ethanol, indicating that acetate activation and the glyoxylate cycle are essential for utilization of this substrate. In accordance, the expression profile of ethanol-grown C. glutamicum cells compared to that of glucose-grown cells revealed an increased expression of genes encoding acetate kinase (AK), PTA, ICL and MS. Furthermore, the specific activities of these four enzymes as well as those of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) were found to be high in ethanol-grown and low in glucose-grown cells. Growth of C. glutamicum on a mixture of glucose and ethanol led to a biphasic growth behavior, which was due to the sequential utilization of glucose before ethanol. Accordingly, the specific activities of ADH, ALDH, AK, PTA, ICL and MS in cells grown in medium containing both substrates were as low as in glucose-grown cells in the first growth phase, but increased 5- to 100-fold during the second growth phase. The results indicate that ethanol catabolism in C. glutamicum is subject to carbon source-dependent regulation, i.e., to a carbon catabolite control.

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