A Pseudomonas aeruginosa gene homologous to the fabG gene, which encodes the NADPH-dependent β-ketoacyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) reductase required for fatty acid synthesis, was identified. The insertional mutation of this fabG homolog (herein called rhlG) produced no apparent effect on the growth rate and total lipid content of P. aeruginosa cells, but the production of rhamnolipids was completely abrogated. These results suggest that the synthetic pathway for the fatty acid moiety of rhamnolipids is separate from the general fatty acid synthetic pathway, starting with a specific ketoacyl reduction step catalyzed by the RhlG protein. In addition, the synthesis of poly-β-hydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is delayed in this mutant, suggesting that RhlG participates in PHA synthesis, although it is not the only reductase involved in this pathway. Traits regulated by the quorum-sensing response, other than rhamnolipid production, including production of proteases, pyocyanine, and the autoinducer butanoyl-homoserine lactone (PAI-2), were not affected by the rhlG mutation. We conclude that the P. aeruginosa rhlG gene encodes an NADPH-dependent β-ketoacyl reductase absolutely required for the synthesis of the β-hydroxy acid moiety of rhamnolipids and that it has a minor role in PHA production. Expression of rhlG mRNA under different culture conditions is consistent with this conclusion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology