Control analysis as a tool to understand the formation of the las operon in Lactococcus lactis


P. R. Jensen, Microbial Physiology and Genetics, BioCentrum-DTU, Technical University of Denmark, Building 301, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
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In Lactococcus lactis the enzymes phosphofructokinase (PFK), pyruvate kinase (PK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) are uniquely encoded in the las operon. We used metabolic control analysis to study the role of this organization. Earlier studies have shown that, at wild-type levels, LDH has no control over glycolysis and growth rate, but high negative control over formate production (inline image). We found that PFK and PK exert no control over glycolysis and growth rate at wild-type enzyme levels but both enzymes exert strong positive control on the glycolytic flux at reduced activities. PK exerts high positive control over formate (inline image) and acetate production (inline image), whereas PFK exerts no control over these fluxes at increased expression. Decreased expression of the entire las operon resulted in a strong decrease in the growth rate and glycolytic flux; at 53% expression of the las operon glycolytic flux was reduced to 44% and the flux control coefficient increased towards 3. Increased las expression resulted in a slight decrease in the glycolytic flux. At wild-type levels, control was close to zero on both glycolysis and the pyruvate branches. The sum of control coefficients for the three enzymes individually was comparable with the control coefficient found for the entire operon; the strong positive control exerted by PK almost cancels out the negative control exerted by LDH on formate production. Our analysis suggests that coregulation of PFK and PK provides a very efficient way to regulate glycolysis, and coregulating PK and LDH allows cells to maintain homolactic fermentation during glycolysis regulation.