mSystems. 2022 Sep 8:e0053422. doi: 10.1128/msystems.00534-22. Online ahead of print.
Caproate, an important medium-chain fatty acid, can only be synthesized by limited bacterial species by using ethanol, lactate, or certain saccharides. Caproicibacterium lactatifermentans is a promising caproate producer due to its glucose and lactate utilization capabilities. However, the global cellular responses of this bacterium to different carbon sources were not well understood. Here, C. lactatifermentans showed robust growth on glucose but more active caproate synthesis on lactate. Comparative transcriptome revealed that the genes involved in reverse β-oxidation for caproate synthesis and V-type ATPase-dependent ATP generation were upregulated under lactate condition, while several genes responsible for biomass synthesis were upregulated under glucose condition. Based on metabolic pathway reconstructions and bioenergetics analysis, the biomass accumulation on glucose condition may be supported by sufficient supplies of ATP and metabolite intermediates via glycolysis. In contrast, the ATP yield per glucose equivalent from lactate conversion into caproate was only 20% of that from glucose. Thus, the upregulation of the reverse β-oxidation genes may be essential for cell survival under lactate conditions. Furthermore, the remarkably decreased lactate utilization was observed after glucose acclimatization, indicating the negative modulation of lactate utilization by glucose metabolism. Based on the cotranscription of the lactate utilization repressor gene lldR with sugar-specific PTS genes and the opposite expression patterns of lldR and lactate utilization genes, a novel regulatory mechanism of glucose-repressed lactate utilization mediated via lldR was proposed. The results of this study suggested the molecular mechanism underlying differential physiologic and metabolic characteristics of C. lactatifermentans grown on glucose and lactate. IMPORTANCE Caproicibacterium lactatifermentans is a unique and robust caproate-producing bacterium in the family Oscillospiraceae due to its lactate utilization capability, whereas its close relatives such as Caproicibacterium amylolyticum, Caproiciproducens galactitolivorans, and Caproicibacter fermentans cannot utilize lactate but produce lactate as the main fermentation end product. Moreover, C. lactatifermentans can also utilize several saccharides such as glucose and maltose. Although the metabolic versatility of the bacterium makes it to be a promising industrial caproate producer, the cellular responses of C. lactatifermentans to different carbon sources were unknown. Here, the molecular mechanisms of biomass synthesis supported by glucose utilization and the cell survival supported by lactate utilization were revealed. A novel insight into the regulatory machinery in which glucose negatively regulates lactate utilization was proposed. This study provides a valuable basis to control and optimize caproate production, which will contribute to achieving a circular economy and environmental sustainability.