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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013 Mar;97(5):2119-30. doi: 10.1007/s00253-012-4360-1. Epub 2012 Aug 29.

The atf2 gene is involved in triacylglycerol biosynthesis and accumulation in the oleaginous Rhodococcus opacus PD630.

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Centro Regional de Investigación y Desarrollo Científico Tecnológico, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia, San Juan Bosco Km 4-Ciudad Universitaria 9000, Comodoro Rivadavia (Chubut), Argentina.


Rhodococcus opacus PD630 is an oleaginous bacterium able to accumulate large amounts of triacylglycerols (TAG) in different carbon sources. The last reaction for TAG biosynthesis is catalyzed by the bifunctional wax ester synthase/acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (WS/DGAT) enzymes encoded by atf genes. R. opacus PD630 possesses at least 17 putative atf homologous genes in its genome, but only atf1 and atf2 exhibited a significant DGAT activity when expressed in E. coli, as revealed in a previous study. The contribution of atf1 gene to TAG accumulation by strain PD630 has been demonstrated previously, although additional Atfs may also contribute to lipid accumulation, since the atf1-disrupted mutant is still able to produce significant amounts of TAG (Alvarez et al., Microbiology 154:2327-2335, 2008). In this study, we investigated the in vivo role of atf2 gene in TAG accumulation by R. opacus PD630 by using different genetic strategies. The atf2-disrupted mutant exhibited a decrease in TAG accumulation (up to 25-30 %, w/w) and an approximately tenfold increase in glycogen formation in comparison with the wild-type strain. Surprisingly, in contrast to single mutants, a double mutant generated by the disruption of atf1 and atf2 genes only showed a very low effect in TAG and in glycogen accumulation under lipid storage conditions. Overexpression of atf1 and atf2 genes in strain PD630 promoted an increase of approximately 10 % (w/w) in TAG accumulation, while heterologous expression of atf2 gene in Mycobacterium smegmatis caused an increase in TAG accumulation during cultivation in nitrogen-rich media. This study demonstrated that, in addition to atf1 gene, atf2 is actively involved in TAG accumulation by the oleaginous R. opacus PD630.

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