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J Bacteriol. 2011 May;193(9):2107-15. doi: 10.1128/JB.00036-11. Epub 2011 Mar 4.

Regulation and characterization of the dadRAX locus for D-amino acid catabolism in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1.

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Department of Biology, Georgia State University, 161 Jesse Hill Drive, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.


D-amino acids are essential components for bacterial peptidoglycan, and these natural compounds are also involved in cell wall remodeling and biofilm disassembling. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the dadAX operon, encoding the D-amino acid dehydrogenase DadA and the amino acid racemase DadX, is essential for D- and L-Ala catabolism, and its expression requires a transcriptional regulator, DadR. In this study, purified recombinant DadA alone was sufficient to demonstrate the proposed enzymatic activity with very broad substrate specificity; it utilizes all D-amino acids tested as substrates except D-Glu and D-Gln. DadA also showed comparable k(cat) and K(m) values on D-Ala and several D-amino acids. dadRAX knockout mutants were constructed and subjected to analysis of their growth phenotypes on amino acids. The results revealed that utilization of L-Ala, L-Trp, D-Ala, and a specific set of D-amino acids as sole nitrogen sources was abolished in the dadA mutant and/or severely hampered in the dadR mutant while growth yield on D-amino acids was surprisingly improved in the dadX mutant. The dadA promoter was induced by several L-amino acids, most strongly by Ala, and only by D-Ala among all tested D-amino acids. Enhanced growth of the dadX mutant on D-amino acids is consistent with the finding that the dadA promoter was constitutively induced in the dadX mutant, where exogenous D-Ala but not L-Ala reduced the expression. Binding of DadR to the dadA regulatory region was demonstrated by electromobility shift assays, and the presence of L-Ala but not D-Ala increased affinity by 3-fold. The presence of multiple DadR-DNA complexes in the dadA regulatory region was demonstrated in vitro, and the formation of these nucleoprotein complexes exerted a complicated impact on promoter activation in vivo. In summary, the results from this study clearly demonstrate DadA to be the enzyme solely responsible for the proposed D-amino acid dehydrogenase activity of broad substrate specificity and the physiological functions of DadRAX in catabolism of several D-amino acids and support L-Ala as the signal molecule for induction of the dadAX genes through DadR binding to several putative operator sites.

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