Trends in bacterial trehalose metabolism and significant nodes of metabolic pathway in the direction of trehalose accumulation
Propionibacterium freudenreichii accumulates high levels of trehalose, especially in response to stress. The pathways for trehalose metabolism were characterized, and their roles in response to osmotic, oxidative and acid stress were studied. Two pathways were identified: the trehalose-6-phosphate synthase/phosphatase (OtsA-OtsB) pathway, and the trehalose synthase (TreS) pathway. The former was used for trehalose synthesis, whereas the latter is proposed to operate in trehalose degradation. The activities of OtsA, OtsB and TreS were detected in cell extracts; the corresponding genes were identified, and the recombinant proteins were characterized in detail. In crude extracts of P. freudenreichii, OtsA was specific for ADP-glucose, in contrast to the pure recombinant OtsA, which used UDP-, GDP- and TDP-glucose, in addition to ADP-glucose. Moreover, the substrate specificity of OtsA in cell extracts was lost during purification, and the recombinant OtsA became specific to ADP-glucose upon incubation with a dialysed cell extract. The level of OtsA was enhanced (approximately twofold) by osmotic, oxidative and acid stress, whereas the level of TreS remained constant, or it decreased, under identical stress conditions. Therefore, the OtsA-OtsB pathway plays an important role in the synthesis of trehalose in response to stress. It is most likely that trehalose degradation proceeds via TreS to yield maltose, which is subsequently catabolized via amylomaltase activity. Hydrolytic activities that are potentially involved in trehalose degradation (trehalase, trehalose phosphorylase, trehalose-6-phosphate phosphorylase and trehalose-6-phosphate hydrolase) were not present. The role of trehalose as a common response to three distinct stresses is discussed.