Abstract

The enzymes acetoacetate decarboxylase coenzyme A transferase catalyse acetone production from acetoacetyl-CoA in Clostridium acetobutylicum. The adc gene encoding the former enzyme is organized in a monocistronic operon, while the ctf genes form a common transcription unit with the gene (adhE) encoding a probable polyfunctional aldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenase. This genetic arrangement could reflect physiological requirements at the onset of solventogenesis. In addition to AdhE, two butanol dehydrogenase isozymes and a thiolase are involved in butanol synthesis. RNA analyses showed a sequential order of induction for the different butanol dehydrogenase genes, indicating an in vivo function of BdhI in low level butanol formation. The physiological roles of AdhE and BdhII most likely involve high level butanol formation, with AdhE being responsible for the onset of solventogenesis and BdhII ensuring continued butanol production. Addition of methyl viologen results in artifically induced butanol synthesis which seems to be mediated by a still unknown set of enzymes. Although the signal that triggers the shift to solventogenesis has not yet been elucidated, recent investigations suggest a possible function of DNA supercoiling as a transcriptional sensor of the respective environmental stimuli.

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Author notes

1
Institut für Biotechnologie, ETH Hönggerberg, HPT, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland.