Proteomic phenotyping of Novosphingobium nitrogenifigens reveals a robust capacity for simultaneous nitrogen fixation, polyhydroxyalkanoate production, and resistance to reactive oxygen species

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Jul;78(14):4802-15. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00274-12. Epub 2012 May 11.


Novosphingobium nitrogenifigens Y88(T) (Y88) is a free-living, diazotrophic Alphaproteobacterium, capable of producing 80% of its biomass as the biopolymer polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). We explored the potential utility of this species as a polyhydroxybutyrate production strain, correlating the effects of glucose, nitrogen availability, dissolved oxygen concentration, and extracellular pH with polyhydroxybutyrate production and changes in the Y88 proteomic profile. Using two-dimensional differential in-gel electrophoresis and tandem mass spectrometry, we identified 217 unique proteins from six growth conditions. We observed reproducible, characteristic proteomic signatures for each of the physiological states we examined. We identified proteins that changed in abundance in correlation with either nitrogen fixation, dissolved oxygen concentration, or acidification of the growth medium. The proteins that correlated with nitrogen fixation were identified either as known nitrogen fixation proteins or as novel proteins that we predict play roles in aspects of nitrogen fixation based on their proteomic profiles. In contrast, the proteins involved in central carbon and polyhydroxybutyrate metabolism were constitutively abundant, consistent with the constitutive polyhydroxybutyrate production that we observed in this species. Three proteins with roles in detoxification of reactive oxygen species were identified in this obligate aerobe. The most abundant protein in all experiments was a polyhydroxyalkanoate granule-associated protein, phasin. The full-length isoform of this protein has a long, intrinsically disordered Ala/Pro/Lys-rich N-terminal segment, a feature that appears to be unique to sphingomonad phasins. The data suggest that Y88 has potential as a PHB production strain due to its aerobic tolerance and metabolic orientation toward polyhydroxybutyrate accumulation, even in low-nitrogen growth medium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Nitrogen Fixation / physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates / biosynthesis*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / pharmacology*
  • Sphingomonadaceae / classification
  • Sphingomonadaceae / drug effects*
  • Sphingomonadaceae / growth & development
  • Sphingomonadaceae / metabolism
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • PHAP protein, Bacteria
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • Reactive Oxygen Species