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Transhydrogenase promotes the robustness and evolvability of E. coli deficient in NADPH production

, : Transhydrogenase promotes the robustness and evolvability of E. coli deficient in NADPH production. Plos Genetics 11(2): E1005007-E1005007

Metabolic networks revolve around few metabolites recognized by diverse enzymes and involved in myriad reactions. Though hub metabolites are considered as stepping stones to facilitate the evolutionary expansion of biochemical pathways, changes in their production or consumption often impair cellular physiology through their system-wide connections. How does metabolism endure perturbations brought immediately by pathway modification and restore hub homeostasis in the long run? To address this question we studied laboratory evolution of pathway-engineered Escherichia coli that underproduces the redox cofactor NADPH on glucose. Literature suggests multiple possibilities to restore NADPH homeostasis. Surprisingly, genetic dissection of isolates from our twelve evolved populations revealed merely two solutions: (1) modulating the expression of membrane-bound transhydrogenase (mTH) in every population; (2) simultaneously consuming glucose with acetate, an unfavored byproduct normally excreted during glucose catabolism, in two subpopulations. Notably, mTH displays broad phylogenetic distribution and has also played a predominant role in laboratory evolution of Methylobacterium extorquens deficient in NADPH production. Convergent evolution of two phylogenetically and metabolically distinct species suggests mTH as a conserved buffering mechanism that promotes the robustness and evolvability of metabolism. Moreover, adaptive diversification via evolving dual substrate consumption highlights the flexibility of physiological systems to exploit ecological opportunities.


PMID: 25715029

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005007

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