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Title: Biochemical adaptations in pseudomonas fluorescens exposed to nitric oxide, an endogenous antibacterial agent
Authors: Auger, Christopher
Keywords: Metabolism;Bacteria;Nitric oxide;Reactive Nitrogen Species
Issue Date: 21-May-2014
Publisher: Laurentian University of Sudbury
Abstract: Nitric oxide (NO), a free radical released by macrophages (a subset of white blood cells) as a response to infection, is noxious to organisms due to its ability to disable crucial biomolecules such as lipids, proteins and DNA. Although normally effective at eradicating invading bacteria, several pathogens have developed mechanisms to detoxify NO and its toxic by-products, reactive nitrogen species (RNS). While some of these detoxification processes have been characterized, very little is known about the metabolic changes that enable microbes to survive this deleterious environment. Investigations into the effects of RNS on microbial physiology have shown that these harmful radicals inactivate the citric acid cycle and oxidative phosphorylation, the series of reactions responsible for making energy aerobically. The central aim of this thesis was to determine how the organism counteracts the detrimental effects of RNS, while bypassing the ineffective central metabolic pathways. The findings presented herein show that P. fluorescens engineers an elaborate metabolic network to generate ATP whilst withstanding the injurious effects of nitrosative stress. Crucial to this adaptation is the ability to produce energy via substrate level phosphorylation, a necessity that arises out of the cells’ inability to produce a substantial amount of ATP using the electron transport chain (ETC). The up-regulation of the enzymes citrate lyase (CL), phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) and pyruvate, phosphate dikinase (PPDK) helps the organism accomplish this feat. Blue native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (BN-PAGE), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) as well as co-immunoprecipitation (CO-IP) studies were applied to demonstrate that these proteins form a metabolon, a transient complex of enzymes that ensures citrate is converted into its desired end products, pyruvate and ATP. In order to gauge the individual contributions iv of phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent kinases, a novel in-gel activity assay was developed to probe these enzymes under disparate conditions. These results suggest that the organism switches from an ATP-dependent metabolism to one based on the utilization of pyrophosphate (PPi). The rationale for this appears to be energy efficiency, as pyrophosphate-dependent glycolysis can theoretically produce five ATP rather than the two yielded by Embden-Meyerhof glycolysis. Additionally, the up-regulation in activity of the enzymes adenylate kinase, nucleoside diphosphate kinase and acetate kinase seem to ensure that ATP generated by PPDK is properly shuttled and stored when aerobic metabolism is defective. The lower activity of inorganic pyrophosphatase likely ensures an adequate supply of pyrophosphate for the activity of PPDK. Taken together, this research reveals the critical role metabolism plays in the survival of microbes under the onslaught of NO and RNS. As several of these enzymes are absent in mammalian systems, they present themselves as novel targets for the development of new antibacterial agents. A comprehensive awareness of bacterial defense systems in response to NO may lay the groundwork to developing more effective treatments to impede microbial infections.
Appears in Collections:Biomolecular Sciences - Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses

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