Most Escherichia coli strains are naturally unable to grow on 1,2-propanediol (PDO) as a sole carbon source. Recently, however, a K-12 descendent E. coli strain was evolved to grow on 1,2-PDO, and it was hypothesized that this evolved ability was dependent on the aldehyde dehydrogenase, AldA, which is highly conserved among members of the family Enterobacteriacea. To test this hypothesis, we first performed computational model simulation, which confirmed the essentiality of the aldA gene for 1,2-PDO utilization by the evolved PDO-degrading E. coli. Next, we deleted the aldA gene from the evolved strain, and this deletion was sufficient to abolish the evolved phenotype. On re-introducing the gene on a plasmid, the evolved phenotype was restored. These findings provide experimental evidence for the computationally predicted role of AldA in 1,2-PDO utilization, and represent a good example of E. coli robustness, demonstrated by the bacterial deployment of a generalist enzyme (here AldA) in multiple pathways to survive carbon starvation and to grow on a non-native substrate when no native carbon source is available.
- Microbial metabolilsm
- Systems biology
- Genome-scale models
- Adaptive laboratory evolution
- Pathway gap filling