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Characterization of aromatic acid/proton symporters in Pseudomonas putida KT2440 toward efficient microbial conversion of lig...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Metabolic Engineering
Publication Date
Page Numbers
167 to 179

Pseudomonas putida KT2440 (hereafter KT2440) is a well-studied platform bacterium for the production of industrially valuable chemicals from heterogeneous mixtures of aromatic compounds obtained from lignin depolymerization. KT2440 can grow on lignin-related monomers, such as ferulate (FA), 4-coumarate (4CA), vanillate (VA), 4-hydroxybenzoate (4HBA), and protocatechuate (PCA). Genes associated with their catabolism are known, but knowledge about the uptake systems remains limited. In this work, we studied the KT2440 transporters of lignin-related monomers and their substrate selectivity. Based on the inhibition by protonophores, we focused on five genes encoding aromatic acid/H+ symporter family transporters categorized into major facilitator superfamily that uses the proton motive force. The mutants of PP_1376 (pcaK) and PP_3349 (hcnK) exhibited significantly reduced growth on PCA/4HBA and FA/4CA, respectively, while no change was observed on VA for any of the five gene mutants. At pH 9.0, the conversion of these compounds by hcnK mutant (FA/4CA) and vanK mutant (VA) was dramatically reduced, revealing that these transporters are crucial for the uptake of the anionic substrates at high pH. Uptake assays using 14C-labeled substrates in Escherichia coli and biosensor-based assays confirmed that PcaK, HcnK, and VanK have ability to take up PCA, FA/4CA, and VA/PCA, respectively. Additionally, analyses of the predicted protein structures suggest that the size and hydropathic properties of the substrate-binding sites of these transporters determine their substrate preferences. Overall, this study reveals that at physiological pH, PcaK and HcnK have a major role in the uptake of PCA/4HBA and FA/4CA, respectively, and VanK is a VA/PCA transporter. This information can contribute to the engineering of strains for the efficient conversion of lignin-related monomers to value-added chemicals.