Quantitative physiological characterization and isotopic tracer experiments revealed that pyruvate kinase mutants of Bacillus subtilis produced significantly more CO2 from glucose in the tricarboxylic acid cycle than is explained by the remaining conversion of phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) to pyruvate catalyzed by the phosphotransferase system. We show here that this additional catabolic flux into the tricarboxylic acid cycle was catalyzed by the PEP carboxykinase. In contrast to its normal role in gluconeogenesis, PEP carboxykinase can operate in the reverse direction from PEP to oxaloacetate upon knockout of pyruvate kinase in a riboflavin-producing B. subtilis strain and in wild-type 168. At least in the industrial strain, we demonstrate the additional capacity of PEP carboxykinase to function as a substitute anaplerotic reaction when the normal pyruvate carboxylase is inactivated. Presumably as a consequence of the unfavorable kinetics of an ATP-synthesizing anaplerotic PEP carboxykinase reaction, such pyruvate carboxylase mutants grow slowly or, as in the case of wild-type 168, not at all.
- metabolic networks
- tricarboxylic acid cycle