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Manipulation of polyhydroxyalkanoate granular sizes in Halomonas bluephagenesis

Shen, Rui, Ning, Zhi-Yu, Lan, Yu-Xuan, Chen, Jin-Chun, Chen, Guo-Qiang
Metabolic engineering 2019 v.54 pp. 117-126
Halomonas, bacteria, cell biology, culture media, engineering, gene overexpression, genes, granules, molecular weight, mutants, polyhydroxyalkanoates, proteins
Bacterial polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are a family of intracellular polyester granules with sizes ranging from 100 to 500 nm. Due to their small sizes, it has been very difficult to separate the PHA granules from the bacterial broths. This study aims to engineer the PHA size control mechanism to obtain large PHA granular sizes beneficial for the separation. It has been reported that phasin (PhaP) is an amphiphilic protein located on the surface of PHA granules functioning to regulate sizes and numbers of PHA granules in bacterial cells, deletions on PhaPs result in reduced PHA granule number and enhanced granule sizes. Three genes phaP1, phaP2 and phaP3 encoding three PhaP proteins were deleted in various combinations in halophilic bacterium Halomonas bluephagenesis TD01. The phaP1-knockout strain generated much larger PHA granules with almost the same size as their producing cells without significantly affecting the PHA accumulation yet with a reduced PHA molecular weights. In contrast, the phaP2- and phaP3-knockout strains produced slightly larger sizes of PHA granules with increased PHA molecular weights. While PHA accumulation by phaP3-knockout strains showed a significant reduction. All of the PhaP deletion efforts could not form PHA granules larger than a normal size of H. bluephagenesis TD01. It appears that the PHA granular sizes could be limited by bacterial cell sizes. Therefore, genes minC and minD encoding proteins that block formation of cell fission rings (Z-rings) were over-expressed in various phaP deleted H. bluephagenesis TD01, resulting in large cell sizes of H. bluephagenesis TD01 containing PHA granules with sizes of up to 10 μm that has never been observed previously. It can be concluded that PHA granule sizes are limited by the cell sizes. By engineering a large cell morphology large PHA granules can be produced by PhaP deleted mutants.