Studies of regulation of expression of the propionate (prpBCDE) operon provide insights into how Salmonella typhimurium LT2 integrates its 1,2-propanediol and propionate catabolic pathways

J Bacteriol. 1998 Dec;180(24):6511-8. doi: 10.1128/JB.180.24.6511-6518.1998.


Expression of the prpBCDE operon of Salmonella typhimurium LT2 required (i) the synthesis of propionyl-coenzyme A (CoA) by the PrpE protein or the acetyl-CoA-synthesizing systems of the cell and (ii) the synthesis of 2-methylcitrate from propionyl-CoA and oxaloacetate by the PrpC protein. We propose that either 2-methylcitrate or a derivative of it signals the presence of propionate in the environment. This as yet unidentified signal is thought to serve as a coregulator of the activity of PrpR, the member of the sigma-54 family of transcriptional activators needed for activation of prpBCDE transcription. The CobB protein was also required for expression of the prpBCDE operon, but its role is less well understood. Expression of the prpBCDE operon in cobB mutants was restored to wild-type levels upon induction of the propanediol utilization (pdu) operon by 1,2-propanediol. This effect did not require catabolism of 1,2-propanediol, suggesting that a Pdu protein, not a catabolite of 1,2-propanediol, was responsible for the observed effect. We explain the existence of these redundant functions in terms of metabolic pathway integration. In an environment with 1,2-propanediol as the sole carbon and energy source, expression of the prpBCDE operon is ensured by the Pdu protein that has CobB-like activity. Since synthesis of this Pdu protein depends on the availability of 1,2-propanediol, the cell solves the problem faced in an environment devoid of 1,2-propanediol where propionate is the sole carbon and energy source by having cobB located outside of the pdu operon and its expression independent of 1,2-propanediol. At present, it is unclear how the CobB and Pdu proteins affect prpBCDE expression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acyl Coenzyme A / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Multienzyme Complexes*
  • Mutagenesis
  • Nucleotidyltransferases*
  • Operon*
  • Pentosyltransferases / genetics
  • Pentosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Propionates / metabolism*
  • Propylene Glycol / metabolism*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Acyl Coenzyme A
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Propionates
  • propionyl-coenzyme A
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Pentosyltransferases
  • nicotinate-nucleotide-dimethylbenzimidazole phosphoribosyltransferase
  • Nucleotidyltransferases