ACS synthetic biology. 2023-06-16; 12.6: 1868-1873.

Characterizing a Propionate Sensor in E. coli Nissle 1917

Amrofell MB, Moon TS

PMID: 37220256


Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are commonly found in the large intestine, but generally not in the small intestine, and influence microbiome composition and host physiology. Thus, synthetic biologists are interested in developing engineered probiotics capable of detection of SCFAs as biogeography or disease sensors. One SCFA, propionate, is both sensed and consumed by . Here, we utilize the transcription factor PrpR, sensitive to the propionate-derived metabolite (2,3)-2-methylcitrate, and its cognate promoter P to detect extracellular propionate with the probiotic chassis bacterium Nissle 1917. We identify that PrpR-P displays stationary phase leakiness and transient bimodality, and we explain these observations through evolutionary rationales and deterministic modeling, respectively. Our results will help researchers build biogeographically sensitive genetic circuits.

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