The Pseudomonas aeruginosa Complement of Lactate Dehydrogenases Enables Use of d- and l-Lactate and Metabolic Cross-Feeding

Lin, Yu-Cheng; Cornell, William-Cole; Jo, Jeanyoung; Price-Whelan, Alexa M.; Dietrich, Lars

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is the most common cause of chronic, biofilm-based lung infections in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Sputum from patients with CF has been shown to contain oxic and hypoxic subzones as well as millimolar concentrations of lactate. Here, we describe the physiological roles and expression patterns of P. aeruginosa lactate dehydrogenases in the contexts of different growth regimes. P. aeruginosa produces four enzymes annotated as lactate dehydrogenases, three of which are known to contribute to anaerobic or aerobic metabolism in liquid cultures. These three are LdhA, which reduces pyruvate to d-lactate during anaerobic survival, and LldE and LldD, which oxidize d-lactate and l-lactate, respectively, during aerobic growth. We demonstrate that the fourth enzyme, LldA, performs redundant l-lactate oxidation during growth in aerobic cultures in both a defined MOPS (morpholinepropanesulfonic acid)-based medium and synthetic CF sputum media. However, LldA differs from LldD in that its expression is induced specifically by the l-enantiomer of lactate. We also show that the P. aeruginosa lactate dehydrogenases perform functions in colony biofilms that are similar to their functions in liquid cultures. Finally, we provide evidence that the enzymes LdhA and LldE have the potential to support metabolic cross-feeding in biofilms, where LdhA can catalyze the production of d-lactate in the anaerobic zone, which is then used as a substrate in the aerobic zone. Together, these observations further our understanding of the metabolic pathways that can contribute to P. aeruginosa growth and survival during CF lung infection.

IMPORTANCE Lactate is thought to serve as a carbon and energy source during chronic infections. Sites of bacterial colonization can contain two enantiomers of lactate: the l-form, generally produced by the host, and the d-form, which is usually produced by bacteria, including the pulmonary pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Here, we characterize P. aeruginosa’s set of four enzymes that it can use to interconvert pyruvate and lactate, the functions of which depend on the availability of oxygen and specific enantiomers of lactate. We also show that anaerobic pyruvate fermentation triggers production of the aerobic d-lactate dehydrogenase in both liquid cultures and biofilms, thereby enabling metabolic cross-feeding of lactate over time and space between subpopulations of cells. These metabolic pathways might contribute to P. aeruginosa growth and survival in the lung.


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Biological Sciences
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November 15, 2018