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J Bacteriol. 2009 Jan;191(1):52-64. doi: 10.1128/JB.01175-08. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

Comparative genomics of regulation of fatty acid and branched-chain amino acid utilization in proteobacteria.

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Institute for Information Transmission Problems, RAS, Moscow, Russia.


Bacteria can use branched-chain amino acids (ILV, i.e., isoleucine, leucine, valine) and fatty acids (FAs) as sole carbon and energy sources converting ILV into acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA), propanoyl-CoA, and propionyl-CoA, respectively. In this work, we used the comparative genomic approach to identify candidate transcriptional factors and DNA motifs that control ILV and FA utilization pathways in proteobacteria. The metabolic regulons were characterized based on the identification and comparison of candidate transcription factor binding sites in groups of phylogenetically related genomes. The reconstructed ILV/FA regulatory network demonstrates considerable variability and involves six transcriptional factors from the MerR, TetR, and GntR families binding to 11 distinct DNA motifs. The ILV degradation genes in gamma- and betaproteobacteria are regulated mainly by a novel regulator from the MerR family (e.g., LiuR in Pseudomonas aeruginosa) (40 species); in addition, the TetR-type regulator LiuQ was identified in some betaproteobacteria (eight species). Besides the core set of ILV utilization genes, the LiuR regulon in some lineages is expanded to include genes from other metabolic pathways, such as the glyoxylate shunt and glutamate synthase in Shewanella species. The FA degradation genes are controlled by four regulators including FadR in gammaproteobacteria (34 species), PsrA in gamma- and betaproteobacteria (45 species), FadP in betaproteobacteria (14 species), and LiuR orthologs in alphaproteobacteria (22 species). The remarkable variability of the regulatory systems associated with the FA degradation pathway is discussed from functional and evolutionary points of view.

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