Methanosarcina acetivorans C2A is able to convert several substrates to methane via at least four distinct methanogenic pathways. A common step in each of these pathways is the reduction of methyl-coenzyme M (CoM) to methane catalyzed by methyl-CoM reductase (MCR). Because this enzyme is used in each of the known pathways, the mcrBDCGA operon, which encodes MCR, is expected to be essential. To validate this prediction, a system for conditional gene inactivation was developed. A heterologous copy of the mcrBDCGA operon was placed under the control of the highly regulated mtaC1 promoter, which directs the expression of genes involved in methanol utilization, and recombined onto the M. acetivorans chromosome. This allowed for disruption of the endogenous mcr operon in the presence of methanol. Because the PmtaC1 promoter is transcribed only during growth on methanol, mcrBDCGA was rendered methanol dependent and the strain was unable to grow in trimethylamine media, strongly suggesting that mcrBDCGA is essential. Upon prolonged incubation, suppressed mutants which expressed mcrBDCGA constitutively could be selected. Expression analysis of PmtaC1::uidA gene fusions in several isolated suppressed mutants suggests that they carry transactive mutations leading to deregulation of all genes under control of this promoter. Subsequently, proteome analysis of one such suppressed mutant revealed that all known proteins derived from mtaC1 promoter-dependent expression were constitutively expressed in this mutant. This genetic system can therefore be employed for the testing of essential genes and for the identification of genes under a common regulatory mechanism by making regulatory mutations phenotypically selectable.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology