Role of glyoxylate shunt in oxidative stress response

Sungeun Ahn, Jaejoon Jung, In Ae Jang, Eugene L. Madsen, Woojun Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


The glyoxylate shunt (GS) is a two-step metabolic pathway (isocitrate lyase, aceA; and malate synthase, glcB) that serves as an alternative to the tricarboxylic acid cycle. The GS bypasses the carbon dioxide-producing steps of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and is essential for acetate and fatty acid metabolism in bacteria. GS can be up-regulated under conditions of oxidative stress, antibiotic stress, and host infection, which implies that it plays important but poorly explored roles in stress defense and pathogenesis. In many bacterial species, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, aceA and glcB are not in an operon, unlike in Escherichia coli. In P. aeruginosa, we explored relationships between GS genes and growth, transcription profiles, and biofilm formation. Contrary to our expectations, deletion of aceA in P. aeruginosa improved cell growth under conditions of oxidative and antibiotic stress. Transcriptome data suggested that aceA mutants underwent a metabolic shift toward aerobic denitrification; this was supported by additional evidence, including up-regulation of denitrification-related genes, decreased oxygen consumption without lowering ATP yield, increased production of denitrification intermediates (NO and N2O), and increased cyanide resistance. The aceA mutants also produced a thicker exopolysaccharide layer; that is, a phenotype consistent with aerobic denitrification. A bioinformatic survey across known bacterial genomes showed that only microorganisms capable of aerobic metabolism possess the glyoxylate shunt. This trend is consistent with the hypothesis that the GS plays a previously unrecognized role in allowing bacteria to tolerate oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11928-11938
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 27

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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