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A single point mutation in hmgA leads to melanin accumulation in Bacillus thuringiensis BMB181

Tan, Tong-tong, Zhang, Xu-dong, Miao, Zhen, Yu, Ying, Du, Si-ling, Hou, Xiao-yue, Cai, Jun
Enzyme and microbial technology 2019 v.120 pp. 91-97
4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase, Bacillus thuringiensis, amino acids, gene editing, gene overexpression, genes, heterologous gene expression, industrial applications, insecticides, melanin, mesotrione, mutants, phenotype, point mutation
Bacillus thuringiensis BMB181 (Bt BMB181), with high melanin production, is an ideal candidate for industrial scale production of light-stable insecticides. However, its melanogenic pathways remain unclear. In the present study, we demonstrated that Bt BMB181 failed to produce melanin after treatment with mesotrione, an inhibitor of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase in the homogentisic acid pathway of melanin synthesis. Heterologous expression experiments suggested that homogentisate-1,2-dioxygenase (HmgA) in Bt BMB171 functions normally, yet HmgA in Bt BMB181 had lost its activity, at least partly. Using the CRISPR-Cas9 system, the hmgA gene in Bt BMB171 was knocked out and the mutant strain gained the ability to produce melanin. Furthermore, the complemented strain reverted to the wild-type phenotype. In addition, overexpression of its own hmgA gene in Bt BMB181 also resulted in failure to produce the pigment. BLAST results indicated that the amino acid alteration (G272E) in HmgA of Bt BMB181 was caused by a single point mutation (815G→ A). The enzyme activity of purified HmgA171 was more than 10-fold higher than that of HmgA181. Finally, we determined that the mutation in hmgA was responsible for melanin accumulation in Bt BMB181. Our results provided new insights into the synthesis and regulation of melanin production in B.thuringiensis and will promote its future industrial application.