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Rex in Caldicellulosiruptor bescii: Novel regulon members and its effect on the production of ethanol and overflow metabolite...

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Rex is a global redox‐sensing transcription factor that senses and responds to the intracellular [NADH]/[NAD+] ratio to regulate genes for central metabolism, and a variety of metabolic processes in Gram‐positive bacteria. We decipher and validate four new members of the Rex regulon in Caldicellulosiruptor bescii; a gene encoding a class V aminotransferase, the HydG FeFe Hydrogenase maturation protein, an oxidoreductase, and a gene encoding a hypothetical protein. Structural genes for the NiFe and FeFe hydrogenases, pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase, as well as the rex gene itself are also members of this regulon, as has been predicted previously in different organisms. A C. bescii rex deletion strain constructed in an ethanol‐producing strain made 54% more ethanol (0.16 mmol/L) than its genetic parent after 36 hr of fermentation, though only under nitrogen limited conditions. Metabolomic interrogation shows this rex‐deficient ethanol‐producing strain synthesizes other reduced overflow metabolism products likely in response to more reduced intracellular redox conditions and the accumulation of pyruvate. These results suggest ethanol production is strongly dependent on the native intracellular redox state in C. bescii, and highlight the combined promise of using this gene and manipulation of culture conditions to yield strains capable of producing ethanol at higher yields and final titer.