Metabolomic analysis reveals functional overlapping of three signal transduction proteins in regulating ethanol tolerance in cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803†
Low ethanol tolerance is a crucial factor that restricts the feasibility of bioethanol production in renewable cyanobacterial systems. Our previous studies showed that several transcriptional regulators were differentially regulated by exogenous ethanol in Synechocystis. In this study, by constructing knockout mutants of 34 Synechocystis putative transcriptional regulator-encoding genes and analyzing their phenotypes under ethanol stress, we found that three mutants of regulatory gene sll1392, sll1712 and slr1860 grew poorly in the BG11 medium supplemented with ethanol when compared with the wild type in the same medium, suggesting that the genes may be involved in the regulation of ethanol tolerance. To decipher the regulatory mechanism, targeted LC-MS and untargeted GC-MS approaches were employed to determine metabolic profiles of the three mutants and the wild type under both normal and ethanol stress conditions. The results were then subjected to PCA and WGCNA analyses to determine the responsive metabolites and metabolic modules related to ethanol tolerance. Interestingly, the results showed that there was a significant overlapping of the responsive metabolites and metabolic modules between three regulatory proteins, suggesting that a possible crosstalk between various regulatory proteins may be involved in combating against ethanol toxicity in Synechocystis. The study provided new insights into ethanol-tolerance regulation and knowledge important to rational tolerance engineering in Synechocystis.