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Shared metabolic pathways in a coevolved insect-bacterial symbiosis

Shared metabolic pathways in a coevolved insect-bacterial symbiosis

Russell, Calum W., Bouvaine, Sophie ORCID: 0000-0002-0788-3243, Newell, Peter D. and Douglas, Angela E. (2013) Shared metabolic pathways in a coevolved insect-bacterial symbiosis. Applied and Environmental Microbiology (AEM), 79 (19). pp. 6117-6123. ISSN 0099-2240 (Print), 1098-5336 (Online) (doi:

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The symbiotic bacterium Buchnera aphidicola lacks key genes in the biosynthesis of five essential amino acids (EAAs), and yet its animal hosts (aphids) depend on the symbiosis for the synthesis of these EAAs (isoleucine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, and valine). We tested the hypothesis, derived from genome annotation, that the missing Buchnera reactions are mediated by host enzymes, with the exchange of metabolic intermediates between the partners. The specialized host cells bearing Buchnera were separated into a Buchnera fraction and a Buchnera-free host cell fraction (HF). Addition of HF to isolated Buchnera preparations significantly increased the production of leucine and phenylalanine, and recombinant enzymes mediating the final reactions in branched-chain amino acid and phenylalanine synthesis rescued the production of these EAAs by Buchnera preparations without HF. The likely precursors for the missing proximal reactions in isoleucine and methionine synthesis were identified, and they differed from predictions based on genome annotations: synthesis of 2-oxobutanoate, the aphid-derived precursor of isoleucine synthesis, was stimulated by homoserine and not threonine via threonine dehydratase, and production of the homocysteine precursor of methionine was driven by cystathionine, not cysteine, via reversal of the transsulfuration pathway. The evolution of shared metabolic pathways in this symbiosis can be attributed to host compensation for genomic deterioration in the symbiont, involving changes in host gene expression networks to recruit specific enzymes to the host cell.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: metabolic pathways, bacterial symbiosis
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
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Last Modified: 01 May 2020 08:34

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