Mutations in Escherichia coli polyphosphate kinase that lead to dramatically increased in vivo polyphosphate levels

Academic Article


  • Bacteria synthesize inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) in response to a wide variety of stresses, and production of polyP is essential for stress response and survival in many important pathogens and bacteria used in biotechnological processes. However, surprisingly little is known about the molecular mechanisms that control polyP synthesis. We have therefore developed a novel genetic screen that specifically links growth of Escherichia coli to polyP synthesis, allowing us to isolate mutations leading to enhanced polyP production. Using this system, we have identified mutations in the polyP-synthesizing enzyme polyP kinase (PPK) that lead to dramatic increases in in vivo polyP synthesis but do not substantially affect the rate of polyP synthesis by PPK in vitro. These mutations are distant from the PPK active site and found in interfaces between monomers of the PPK tetramer. We have also shown that high levels of polyP lead to intracellular magnesium starvation. Our results provide new insights into the control of bacterial polyP accumulation and suggest a simple, novel strategy for engineering bacteria with increased polyP contents.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rudat AK; Pokhrel A; Green TJ; Gray MJ
  • Volume

  • 200
  • Issue

  • 6