Regulation of metabolism in Escherichia coli during growth on mixtures of the non-glucose sugars: arabinose, lactose, and xylose
Catabolite repression refers to the process where the metabolism of one sugar represses the genes involved in metabolizing another sugar. While glucose provides the canonical example, many other sugars are also known to induce catabolite repression. However, less is known about the mechanism for catabolite repression by these non-glucose sugars. In this work, we investigated the mechanism of catabolite repression in the bacterium Escherichia coli during growth on lactose, L-arabinose, and D-xylose. The metabolism of these sugars is regulated in a hierarchical manner, where lactose is the preferred sugar, followed by L-arabinose, and then D-xylose. Previously, the preferential utilization of L-arabinose over D-xylose was found to result from transcriptional crosstalk. However, others have proposed that cAMP governs the hierarchical regulation of many non-glucose sugars. We investigated whether lactose-induced repression of L-arabinose and D-xylose gene expression is due to transcriptional crosstalk or cAMP. Our results demonstrate that it is due to cAMP and not transcriptional crosstalk. In addition, we found that repression is reciprocal, where both L-arabinose and D-xylose also repress the lactose gene expression, albeit to a lesser extent and also through a mechanism involving cAMP. Collectively, the results further our understanding of metabolism during growth on multiple sugars.