Aims: To obtain further insights into transportation mechanisms of a most effective biosurfactant, arthrofactin in Pseudomonas sp. MIS38.
Methods and Results: A cluster genes arfA/B/C encodes an arthrofactin synthetase complex (ArfA/B/C). Downstream of the arfA/B/C lie genes encoding a putative periplasmic protein (ArfD, 362 aa) and a putative ATP-binding cassette transporter (ArfE, 651 aa), namely arfD and arfE, respectively. The arfA/B/C, arfD, and arfE form an operon suggesting their functional connection. Gene knockout mutants ArfD:Km, ArfE:Km, ArfD:Tc/ArfE:Km, and gene overexpression strains MIS38(pME6032_arfD/E) and ArfE:Km(pME6032_arfD/E) were prepared and analysed for arthrofactin production profiles. It was found that the production levels of arthrofactin were temporally reduced in the mutants or increased in the gene overexpression strains, but they eventually became similar level to that of MIS38. Addition of ABC transporter inhibitors, glibenclamide and sodium ortho-vanadate dramatically reduced the production levels of arthrofactin. This excludes a possibility that arthrofactin is exported by diffusion with the aid of its own high surfactant activity.
Conclusions: ArfD/E is not an exclusive but a primary exporter of arthrofactin during early growth stage. Reduction in the arthrofactin productivity of arfD and arfE knockout mutants was eventually rescued by another ABC transporter system. Effects of arfD and arfE overexpression were evident only for 1-day cultivation. Multiple ATP dependent active transporter systems are responsible for the production of arthrofactin.
Significance and Impact of the Study: Pseudomonas bacteria are characterized to be endued with multiple exporter and efflux systems for secondary metabolites including antibiotics, plant toxins, and biosurfactants. The present work demonstrates exceptionally flexible and highly controlled transportation mechanisms of a most effective lipopeptide biosurfactant, arthrofactin in Pseudomonas sp. MIS38. Because lipopeptide biosurfactants are known to enhance efficacy of bioactive compounds and arfA/B/C/D/E orthologous genes are also found in plant pathogenic P. fluorescens and P. syringae strains, the knowledge would also contribute to develop a technology controlling plant diseases.