Reitzer, Lawrence J.

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Lawrence Reitzer is a Professor of Biological Sciences and a Fellow of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests include:

  • The regulation of gene expression and metabolism in Escherichia coli and pathogenic bacteria paticularly their responses to environmental stresses,
  • Analysis of the pathways of the catabolism of polyamines and their correlation to growth rates,
  • The function of transaminases with respect to their broad specificity.


Recent Submissions

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    Anaerobic Cysteine Degradation and Potential Metabolic Coordination in Salmonella Enterica and Escherichia Coli
    (2018-08-24) Loddeke, Melissa; Schneider, Barbara; Oguri, Tamiko; Mehta, Iti; Xuan, Zhenyu; Reitzer, Lawrence J.; Loddeke, Melissa; Schneider, Barbara; Oguri, Tamiko; Mehta, Iti; Xuan, Zhenyu; Reitzer, Lawrence J.
    Salmonella enterica has two CyuR-activated enzymes that degrade cysteine, i.e., the aerobic CdsH and an unidentified anaerobic enzyme; Escherichia coli has only the latter. To identify the anaerobic enzyme, transcript profiling was performed for E. coli without cyuR and with overexpressed cyuR. Thirty-seven genes showed at least 5-fold changes in expression, and the cyuPA (formerly yhaOM) operon showed the greatest difference. Homology suggested that CyuP and CyuA represent a cysteine transporter and an iron-sulfur-containing cysteine desulfidase, respectively. E. coli and S. enterica Delta cyuA mutants grown with cysteine generated substantially less sulfide and had lower growth yields. Oxygen affected the CyuR-dependent genes reciprocally; cyuP-lacZ expression was greater anaerobically, whereas cdsH-lacZ expression was greater aerobically. In E. coli and S. enterica, anaerobic cyuP expression required cyuR and cysteine and was induced by L-cysteine, D-cysteine, and a few sulfur-containing compounds. Loss of either CyuA or RidA, both of which contribute to cysteine degradation to pyruvate, increased cyuP-lacZ expression, which suggests that CyuA modulates intracellular cysteine concentrations. Phylogenetic analysis showed that CyuA homologs are present in obligate and facultative anaerobes, confirming an anaerobic function, and in archaeal methanogens and bacterial acetogens, suggesting an ancient origin. Our results show that CyuA is the major anaerobic cysteine-catabolizing enzyme in both E. coli and S. enterica, and it is proposed that anaerobic cysteine catabolism can contribute to coordination of sulfur assimilation and amino acid synthesis. IMPORTANCE Sulfur-containing compounds such as cysteine and sulfide are essential and reactive metabolites. Exogenous sulfur-containing compounds can alter the thiol landscape and intracellular redox reactions and are known to affect several cellular processes, including swarming motility, antibiotic sensitivity, and biofilm formation. Cysteine inhibits several enzymes of amino acid synthesis; therefore, increasing cysteine concentrations could increase the levels of the inhibited enzymes. This inhibition implies that control of intracellular cysteine levels, which is the immediate product of sulfide assimilation, can affect several pathways and coordinate metabolism. For these and other reasons, cysteine and sulfide concentrations must be controlled, and this work shows that cysteine catabolism contributes to this control.

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