Transcriptional regulation of plant biomass degradation and carbohydrate utilization genes in the extreme thermophile caldicellulosiruptor bescii

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Extremely thermophilic bacteria from the genus Caldicellulosiruptor can degrade polysaccharide components of plant cell walls and subsequently utilize the constituting mono- and oligosaccharides. Through metabolic engineering, ethanol and other industrially important end products can be produced. Previous experimental studies identified a variety of carbohydrate-active enzymes in model species Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus and Caldicellulosiruptor bescii, while prior transcriptomic experiments identified their putative carbohydrate uptake transporters. We investigated the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of carbohydrate utilization genes using a comparative genomics approach applied to 14 Caldicellulosiruptor species. The reconstruction of carbohydrate utilization regulatory network includes the predicted binding sites for 34 mostly local regulators and point to the regulatory mechanisms controlling expression of genes involved in degradation of plant biomass. The Rex and CggR regulons control the central glycolytic and primary redox reactions. The identified transcription factor binding sites and regulons were validated with transcriptomic and transcription start site experimental data for C. bescii grown on cellulose, cellobiose, glucose, xylan, and xylose. The XylR and XynR regulons control xylan-induced transcriptional response of genes involved in degradation of xylan and xylose utilization. The reconstructed regulons informed the carbohydrate utilization reconstruction analysis and improved functional annotations of 51 transporters and 11 catabolic enzymes. Using gene deletion, we confirmed that the shared ATPase component MsmK is essential for growth on oligo- and polysaccharides but not for the utilization of monosaccharides. By elucidating the carbohydrate utilization framework in C. bescii, strategies for metabolic engineering can be pursued to optimize yields of bio-based fuels and chemicals from lignocellulose.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal