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Front Microbiol. 2019 Nov 15;10:2549. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.02549. eCollection 2019.

A TetR-Family Protein (CAETHG_0459) Activates Transcription From a New Promoter Motif Associated With Essential Genes for Autotrophic Growth in Acetogens.

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Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.
ERA Chair in Gas Fermentation Technologies, Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
Queensland Node of Metabolomics Australia, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.
LanzaTech Inc., Skokie, IL, United States.


Acetogens can fix carbon (CO or CO2) into acetyl-CoA via the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway (WLP) that also makes them attractive cell factories for the production of fuels and chemicals from waste feedstocks. Although most biochemical details of the WLP are well understood and systems-level characterization of acetogen metabolism has recently improved, key transcriptional features such as promoter motifs and transcriptional regulators are still unknown in acetogens. Here, we use differential RNA-sequencing to identify a previously undescribed promoter motif associated with essential genes for autotrophic growth of the model-acetogen Clostridium autoethanogenum. RNA polymerase was shown to bind to the new promoter motif using a DNA-binding protein assay and proteomics enabled the discovery of four candidates to potentially function directly in control of transcription of the WLP and other key genes of C1 fixation metabolism. Next, in vivo experiments showed that a TetR-family transcriptional regulator (CAETHG_0459) and the housekeeping sigma factor (σA) activate expression of a reporter protein (GFP) in-frame with the new promoter motif from a fusion vector in Escherichia coli. Lastly, a protein-protein interaction assay with the RNA polymerase (RNAP) shows that CAETHG_0459 directly binds to the RNAP. Together, the data presented here advance the fundamental understanding of transcriptional regulation of C1 fixation in acetogens and provide a strategy for improving the performance of gas-fermenting bacteria by genetic engineering.


Clostridium autoethanogenum; Wood–Ljungdahl pathway; autotrophy; gas fermentation; transcriptional regulation

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