Metabolic and physiological studies of Corynebacterium glutamicum mutants

Biotechnol Bioeng. 1997 Sep 20;55(6):864-79. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0290(19970920)55:6<864::AID-BIT5>3.0.CO;2-E.


The physiology and central carbon metabolism of Corynebacterium glutamicum was investigated through the study of specific disruption mutants. Mutants deficient in phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PPC) and/or pyruvate kinase (PK) activity were constructed by disrupting the corresponding gene(s) via transconjugation. Standard batch fermentations were carried out with these mutants and results were evaluated in the context of intracellular flux analysis. The following were determined. (a) There is a significant reduction in the glycolytic pathway flux in the pyruvate kinase deficient mutants during growth on glucose, also evidenced by secretion of dihydroxyacetone and glyceraldehyde. The resulting metabolic overflow is accommodated by the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) acting as mechanism for dissimilating, in the form of CO(2), large amounts of accumulated intermediates. (b) The high activity through the PPP causes an overproduction of reducing power in the form of NADPH. The overproduction of biosynthetic reducing power, as well as the shortage of NADPH produced via the tricarboxylic acid cycle (as evidenced by a reduced citrate synthase flux), are compensated by an increased activity of the transhydrogenase (THD) enzyme catalyzing the reaction NADPH + NAD(+)<-->NADP(+) + NADH. The presence of active THD was also confirmed directly by enzymatic assays. (c) Specific glucose uptake rates declined during the course of fermentation and this decline was more pronounced in the case of a double mutant strain deficient in both PPC and PK. Specific ATP consumption rates similarly declined during the course of the batch. However, they were approximately the same for all strains, indicating that energetic requirements for biosynthesis and maintenance are independent of the specific genetic background of a strain. The above results underline the importance of intracellular flux analysis, not only for producing a static set of intracellular flux estimates, but also for uncovering changes occurring in the course of a batch fermentation or as result of specific genetic modifications.