TitleExploiting Fine-scale Genetic and Physiological Variation of Closely Related Microbes to Reveal Unknown Enzyme Functions.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsBadur AH, Plutz MJ, Yalamanchili G, Jagtap SS, Schweder T, Unfried F, Markert S, Polz MF, Hehemann J-, Rao CV
JournalJ Biol Chem
Date2017 Jun 07

Polysaccharide degradation by marine microbes represents one of the largest and most rapid heterotrophic transformations of organic matter in the environment. Microbes employ systems of complementary carbohydrate-specific enzymes to deconstruct algal or plant polysaccharides (glycans) into monosaccharides. Because of the high diversity of glycan substrates, the functions of these enzymes are often difficult to establish. One solution to this problem may lie within naturally occurring microdiversity: varying numbers of enzymes - due to gene loss, duplication, or transfer - among closely related environmental microbes create metabolic differences akin to those generated by knockout strains engineered in the laboratory used to establish the functions of unknown genes. Inspired by this this natural fine-scale microbial diversity, we show here that it can be used to develop hypotheses guiding biochemical experiments for establishing the role of these enzymes in nature. In this work, we investigated alginate degradation among closely related strains of the marine bacterium Vibrio splendidus One strain, V. splendidus 13B01, exhibited high extracellular alginate lyase activity compared with other V. splendidus strains. To identify the enzymes responsible for this high extracellular activity, we compared V. splendidus 13B01 with the previously characterized V. splendidus 12B01, which has low extracellular activity and lacks two alginate lyase genes present in V. splendidus 13B01. Using a combination of genomics, proteomics, biochemical, and functional screening, we identified a polysaccharide lyase family 7 (PL7) enzyme that is unique to V. splendidus 13B01, secreted, and responsible for the rapid digestion of extracellular alginate. These results demonstrate the value of querying the enzymatic repertoires of closely related microbes to rapidly pinpoint key proteins with beneficial functions.

Alternate JournalJ. Biol. Chem.
PubMed ID28592491
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