Rationally rewiring the connectivity of the XylR/Pu regulatory node of the m-xylene degradation pathway in Pseudomonas putida†
The XylR/Pu regulatory node of the m-xylene biodegradation pathway of Pseudomonas putida mt-2 is one of the most intricate cases of processing internal and external cues into a single controlling element. Despite this complexity, the performance of the regulatory system is determined in vivo only by the occupation of Pu by m-xylene-activated XylR and σ54-RNAP. The stoichiometry between these three elements defines natural system boundaries that outline a specific functional space. This space can be expanded artificially following different strategies that involve either the increase of XylR or σ54 or both elements at the same time (each using a different inducer). In this work we have designed a new regulatory architecture that drives the system to reach a maximum performance in response to one single input. To this end, we first explored using a simple mathematical model whether the output of the XylR/Pu node could be amended by simultaneously increasing σ54 and XylR in response to only natural inducers. The exacerbation of Pu activity in vivo was tested in strains bearing synthetic transposons encoding xylR and rpoN (the σ54 coding gene) controlled also by Pu, thereby generating a P. putida strain with the XylR/Pu output controlled by two intertwined feed forward loops (FFLs). The lack of a negative feedback loop in the expression node enables Pu activity to reach its physiological maximum in response to a single input. Only competition for cell resources might ultimately check the upper activity limit of such a rewired m-xylene sensing device.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Biological Insights from Synthetic Biology