Cloning and manipulation of the Escherichia coli cyclopropane fatty acid synthase gene: Physiological aspects of enzyme overproduction

D. W. Grogan, J. E. Cronan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Like many other eubacteria, cultures of Escherichia coli accumulate cyclopropane fatty acids (CFAs) at a well-defined stage of growth, due to the action of the cytoplasmic enzyme CFA synthase. We report the isolation of the putative structural gene, cfa, for this enzyme on an E. coli-ColE1 chimeric plasmid by the use of an autoradiographic colony screening technique. When introduced into a variety of E. coli strains, this plasmid, pLC18-11, induced corresponding increases in CFA content and CFA synthase activity. Subsequent manipulation of the cfa locus, facilitated by the insertion of pLC18-11 into a bacteriophage lambda vector, allowed genetic and physiological studies of CFA synthase in E. coli. Overproduction of this enzyme via multicopy cfa plasmids caused abnormally high levels of CFA in membrane phospholipid but no discernable growth perturbation. Infection with phage lambda derivatives bearing cfa caused transient overproduction of the enzyme, although p(L)-mediated expression of cfa could not be demonstrated in plasmids derived from such phages. CFA synthase specific activities could be raised to very high levels by using cfa runaway-replication plasmids. A variety of physiological factors were found to modulate the levels of CFA synthase in normal and gene-amplified cultures. These studies argue against several possible mechanisms for the temporal regulation of CFA formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-295
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Volume158
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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