Deletion of bglC triggers a genetic compensation response by awakening the expression of alternative beta-glucosidase

Biochim Biophys Acta Gene Regul Mech. 2020 Oct;1863(10):194615. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2020.194615. Epub 2020 Aug 3.


In the plant pathogen Streptomyces scabies, the gene bglC encodes a GH1 family cellobiose beta-glucosidase that is both required for primary metabolism and for inducing virulence of the bacterium. Deletion of bglC (strain ΔbglC) surprisingly resulted in the augmentation of the global beta-glucosidase activity of S. scabies. This paradoxical phenotype is highly robust as it has been observed in all bglC deletion mutants independently generated, thereby highlighting a phenomenon of genetic compensation. Comparative proteomics allowed to identify two glycosyl hydrolases - named BcpE1 and BcpE2 - of which peptide levels were significantly increased in strain ΔbglC. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that the higher abundance of BcpE1 and BcpE2 is triggered at the transcriptional level, the expression of their respective gene being 100 and 15 times upregulated. Enzymatic studies with pure BcpE proteins showed that they both possess beta-glucosidase activity thereby explaining the genotypic-phenotypic discrepancy of the bglC deletion mutant. The GH1 family BcpE1 could hydrolyze cellobiose and generate glucose similarly to BglC itself thereby mainly contributing to the survival of strain ΔbglC when cellobiose is provided as sole nutrient source. The low affinity of BcpE2 for cellobiose suggests that this GH3 family beta-glucosidase would instead primarily target another and yet unknown glucose-beta-1,4-linked substrate. These results make S. scabies a new model system to study genetic compensation. Discovering how, either the bglC DNA locus, its mRNA, the BglC protein, or either its enzymatic activity controls bcpE genes' expression, will unveil new mechanisms directing transcriptional repression.

Keywords: Beta-glucosidase; Enzyme expression control; Genetic compensation; Paradoxical phenotype; Transcription awakening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Isoenzymes
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phenotype*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • beta-Glucosidase / chemistry
  • beta-Glucosidase / genetics*
  • beta-Glucosidase / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • beta-Glucosidase