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Keywords:

  • malate;
  • malic enzyme;
  • gluconeogenesis

Abstract

The Gram-positive soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis uses glucose and malate as the preferred carbon sources. In the presence of either glucose or malate, the expression of genes and operons for the utilization of secondary carbon sources is subject to carbon catabolite repression. While glucose is a preferred substrate in many organisms from bacteria to man, the factors that contribute to the preference for malate have so far remained elusive. In this work, we have studied the contribution of the different malate-metabolizing enzymes in B. subtilis, and we have elucidated their distinct functions. The malate dehydrogenase and the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase are both essential for malate utilization; they introduce malate into gluconeogenesis. The NADPH-generating malic enzyme YtsJ is important to establish the cellular pools of NADPH for anabolic reactions. Finally, the NADH-generating malic enzymes MaeA, MalS, and MleA are involved in keeping the ATP levels high. Together, this unique array of distinct activities makes malate a preferred carbon source for B. subtilis.