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The 'pH optimum anomaly' of intracellular enzymes of Ferroplasma acidiphilum.A wide range of microorganisms, the so-called acidophiles, inhabit acidic environments and grow optimally at pH values between 0 and 3. The intracellular pH of these organisms is, however, close to neutrality or slightly acidic. It is to be expected that enzymatic activities dedicated to extracellular functions would be adapted to the prevailing low pH of the environment (0-3), whereas intracellular enzymes would be optimally active at the near-neutral pH of the cytoplasm (4.6-7.0). The genes of several intracellular or cell-bound enzymes, a carboxylesterase and three alpha-glucosidases, from Ferroplasma acidiphilum, a cell wall-lacking acidophilic archaeon with a growth optimum at pH 1.7, were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli, and their products purified and characterized. The Ferroplasmaalpha-glucosidases exhibited no sequence similarity to known glycosyl hydrolases. All enzymes functioned and were stable in vitro in the pH range 1.7-4.0, and had pH optima much lower than the mean intracellular pH of 5.6. This 'pH optimum anomaly' suggests the existence of yet-undetected cellular compartmentalization providing cytoplasmic pH patchiness and low pH environments for the enzymes we have analysed.
Proteomic insights into metabolic adaptations in Alcanivorax borkumensis induced by alkane utilization.Alcanivorax borkumensis is a ubiquitous marine petroleum oil-degrading bacterium with an unusual physiology specialized for alkane metabolism. This "hydrocarbonoclastic" bacterium degrades an exceptionally broad range of alkane hydrocarbons but few other substrates. The proteomic analysis presented here reveals metabolic features of the hydrocarbonoclastic lifestyle. Specifically, hexadecane-grown and pyruvate-grown cells differed in the expression of 97 cytoplasmic and membrane-associated proteins whose genes appeared to be components of 46 putative operon structures. Membrane proteins up-regulated in alkane-grown cells included three enzyme systems able to convert alkanes via terminal oxidation to fatty acids, namely, enzymes encoded by the well-known alkB1 gene cluster and two new alkane hydroxylating systems, a P450 cytochrome monooxygenase and a putative flavin-binding monooxygenase, and enzymes mediating beta-oxidation of fatty acids. Cytoplasmic proteins up-regulated in hexadecane-grown cells reflect a central metabolism based on a fatty acid diet, namely, enzymes of the glyoxylate bypass and of the gluconeogenesis pathway, able to provide key metabolic intermediates, like phosphoenolpyruvate, from fatty acids. They also include enzymes for synthesis of riboflavin and of unsaturated fatty acids and cardiolipin, which presumably reflect membrane restructuring required for membranes to adapt to perturbations induced by the massive influx of alkane oxidation enzymes. Ancillary functions up-regulated included the lipoprotein releasing system (Lol), presumably associated with biosurfactant release, and polyhydroxyalkanoate synthesis enzymes associated with carbon storage under conditions of carbon surfeit. The existence of three different alkane-oxidizing systems is consistent with the broad range of oil hydrocarbons degraded by A. borkumensis and its ecological success in oil-contaminated marine habitats.