Effect of overexpressing nhaA and nhaR on sodium tolerance and lactate production in Escherichia coli

No Thumbnail Available
Wu, Xianghao
Altman, Ronni
Eiteman, Mark A
Altman, Elliot
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Background: Like other bacteria, Escherichia coli must carefully regulate the intracellular concentration of sodium ion (Na+). During the bacterial production of any organic acid, cations like Na+ invariably accumulate during a process which must maintain a near neutral pH. In this study, the E. coli nhaA gene encoding the Na+/H+ antiporter membrane protein and the nhaR gene encoding the NhaA regulatory protein were overexpressed in wild-type E. coli MG1655 and in MG1655 pflB (ALS1317) which lacks pyruvate formate lyase activity and thus accumulates lactate under anaerobic conditions.
Results: Expression of either the nhaA or nhaR gene on the high copy inducible expression vector pTrc99A caused a significant reduction in the growth rate of MG1655. No change in growth rate was observed for MG1655 or ALS1317 for Na+ concentrations of 0.75-0.90 M when the medium copy pBR322 plasmid was used to overexpress the two genes. In a fed-batch process to produce the model acid lactate with NaOH addition for pH control, lactate accumulation ceased in MG1655, MG1655/pBR322, MG1655/pBR322-nhaR and MG1655/pBR322-nhaA when the concentration reached 55-58 g/L. In an identical process lactate accumulation in MG1655/pBR322-nhaAR did not terminate until the concentration reached over 70 g/L.
Conclusions: Although overexpression the genes did not improve growth rate at high Na+ concentrations, the overexpression of nhaA and nhaR together led to a 25% increase in lactate production. Thus, the observed (absence of) impact that these genetic modifications had on growth rate is a poor indicator of their effect on acid accumulation. The overexpression of nhaAR did not cause faster lactate production, but permitted the culture to continue accumulating lactate at 10% greater Na+ concentration.
Sodium tolerance, Lactate, Lactic acid, Fed-batch fermentation
Journal of Biological Engineering. 2013 Jan 25;7:3