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Functional Analysis of Deoxyhexose Sugar Utilization in Escherichia coli Reveals Fermentative Metabolism under Aerobic Conditions

Abstract : l-Rhamnose and l-fucose are the two main 6-deoxyhexoses Escherichia coli can use as carbon and energy sources. Deoxyhexose metabolism leads to the formation of lactaldehyde, whose fate depends on oxygen availability. Under anaerobic conditions, lactaldehyde is reduced to 1,2-propanediol, whereas under aerobic conditions, it should be oxidized into lactate and then channeled into the central metabolism. However, although this all-or-nothing view is accepted in the literature, it seems overly simplistic since propanediol is also reported to be present in the culture medium during aerobic growth on l-fucose. To clarify the functioning of 6-deoxyhexose sugar metabolism, a quantitative metabolic analysis was performed to determine extra- and intracellular fluxes in E. coli K-12 MG1655 (a laboratory strain) and in E. coli Nissle 1917 (a human commensal strain) during anaerobic and aerobic growth on l-rhamnose and l-fucose. As expected, lactaldehyde is fully reduced to 1,2-propanediol under anoxic conditions, allowing complete reoxidation of the NADH produced by glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate-dehydrogenase. We also found that net ATP synthesis is ensured by acetate production. More surprisingly, lactaldehyde is also primarily reduced into 1,2-propanediol under aerobic conditions. For growth on l-fucose, 13C-metabolic flux analysis revealed a large excess of available energy, highlighting the need to better characterize ATP utilization processes. The probiotic E. coli Nissle 1917 strain exhibits similar metabolic traits, indicating that they are not the result of the K-12 strain's prolonged laboratory use.
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Contributor : Pierre Millard <>
Submitted on : Monday, September 6, 2021 - 5:02:49 PM
Last modification on : Friday, September 10, 2021 - 3:53:00 PM


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Pierre Millard, Julien Pérochon, Fabien Létisse. Functional Analysis of Deoxyhexose Sugar Utilization in Escherichia coli Reveals Fermentative Metabolism under Aerobic Conditions. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, American Society for Microbiology, 2021, 87 (16), ⟨10.1128/AEM.00719-21⟩. ⟨hal-03336034⟩



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