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Journal Article

The origin and ecological significance of multiple branches for histidine utilization in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1


Rainey,  Paul B.
External Scientific Member Group Experimental and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Gerth, M. L., Ferla, M. P., & Rainey, P. B. (2012). The origin and ecological significance of multiple branches for histidine utilization in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. Environmental Microbiology, 14(8), 1929-1940. doi:10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02691.x.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-EAA5-A
Pseudomonas proliferate in a wide spectrum of harsh and variable environments. In many of these environments, amino acids, such as histidine, are a valuable source of carbon, nitrogen and energy. Here, we demonstrate that the histidine uptake and utilization (hut) pathway of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 contains two branches from the intermediate formiminoglutamate to the product glutamate. Genetic analysis revealed that the four-step route is dispensable as long as the five-step route is present (and vice versa). Mutants with deletions of either the four-step (HutE) or five-step (HutFG) branches were competed against each other and the wild-type strain to test the hypothesis of ecological redundancy; that is, that the presence of two pathways confers no benefit beyond that delivered by the individual pathways. Fitness assays performed under several environmental conditions led us to reject this hypothesis; the four-step pathway can provide an advantage when histidine is the sole carbon source. An IclR-type regulator (HutR) was identified that regulates the four-step pathway. Comparison of sequenced genomes revealed that P. aeruginosa strains and P. fluorescens Pf-5 have branched hut pathways. Phylogenetic analyses suggests that the gene encoding formiminoglutamase (hutE) was acquired by horizontal gene transfer from a Ralstonia-like ancestor. Potential barriers to interspecies transfer of the hutRE module were explored by transferring it from P. aeruginosa PAO1 to P. fluorescens SBW25. Transfer of the operon conferred theability to utilize histidine via the four-step pathway in a single step, but the fitness cost of acquiring this new operon was found to be environment dependent.