Insights into bacterial CO2 metabolism revealed by the characterization of four carbonic anhydrases in Ralstonia eutropha H16

AMB Express. 2014 Jan 10;4(1):2. doi: 10.1186/2191-0855-4-2.


Carbonic anhydrase (CA) enzymes catalyze the interconversion of CO2 and bicarbonate. These enzymes play important roles in cellular metabolism, CO2 transport, ion transport, and internal pH regulation. Understanding the metabolic role of CAs in the chemolithoautotropic bacterium Ralstonia eutropha is important for the development of high performance fermentation processes based on the bacterium's capability to fix carbon using the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle. Analysis of the R. eutropha H16 genome sequence revealed the presence of four CA genes: can, can2, caa and cag. We evaluated the importance of each of the CAs in the metabolism of R. eutropha by examination of growth and enzyme activity in gene deletion, complementation, and overexpression strains. All four purified CAs were capable of performing the interconversion of CO2 and HCO3-, although the equilibrium towards the formation of CO2 or HCO3- differs with each CA. Deletion of can, encoding a β-CA, affected the growth of R. eutropha; however the growth defect could be compensated by adding CO2 to the culture. Deletion of the caa, encoding an α-CA, had the strongest deleterious influence on cell growth. Strains with deletion or overexpression of can2 or cag genes exhibited similar behavior to wild type under most of the conditions tested. In this work, Caa was studied in greater detail using microscopy and complementation experiments, which helped confirm its periplasmic localization and determine its importance for robust growth of R. eutropha. A hypothesis for the coordinated role of these four enzymes in the metabolism of R. eutropha is proposed.