Bacteria such as Escherichia coli will often consume one sugar at a time when fed multiple sugars, in a process known as carbon catabollte repression. The classic example Involves glucose and lactose, where E. coli will first consume glucose, and only when it has consumed all of the glucose will it begin to consume lactose. In addition to that of lactose, glucose also represses the consumption of many other sugars, including arabinose and xylose. In this work, we characterized a second hierarchy in E. coli, that between arabinose and xylose. We show that, when grown in a mixture of the two pentoses, E. coli will consume arabinose before it consumes xylose. Consistent with a mechanism involving catabollte repression, the expression of the xylose metabolic genes is repressed in the presence of arabinose. We found that this repression is AraC dependent and involves a mechanism where arabinose-bound AraC binds to the xylose promoters and represses gene expression. Collectively, these results demonstrate that sugar utilization in E. coli involves multiple layers of regulation, where cells will consume first glucose, then arabinose, and finally xylose. These results may be pertinent in the metabolic engineering of E. coli strains capable of producing chemical and biofuels from mixtures of hexose and pentose sugars derived from plant biomass.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology