The metabolism of DSM 5431 was studied in chemostat culture under carbon limitation using either glucose or glycerol. On glycerol, the enzymes glycerol dehydrogenase, diol dehydratase and 1,3-propanediol (1,3-PD) dehydrogenase constitute the branch point that partitions the carbon flux between the competing pathways, i.e. formation of either 1,3-PD or acetate and butyrate. The increasing levels of these enzyme activities with increasing dilution rates () explained the constant proportion of glycerol conversion into 1,3-PD. The production of acetate or butyrate constitutes another important branch point and when increased (i) large amounts of intracellular acetyl-CoA accumulated, (ii) the carbon flux switched from butyric acid to acetic acid, (iii) the specific activity of thiolase was not affected, suggesting this enzyme may be the bottleneck for carbon flux to butyrate biosynthesis providing an explanation for the accumulation of large amounts of intracellular acetyl-CoA, and (iv) high levels of NADH were found in the cell. Oxidation of NADH by 1,3-PD dehydrogenase was linked to the production of 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde (3-HPA) by glycerol dehydratase. The fact that high intracellular concentrations of NADH were found means that diol dehydratase activity is the rate-limiting step in 1,3-PD formation, avoiding the accumulation of 3-HPA which is a very toxic compound. The specific rate of glucose catabolism ( = 11.1 mmol h g) was around four times lower than the specific rate of glycerol catabolism ( = 57.4 mmol h g). On glucose-grown cells, reducing equivalents which are released in the glycolytic pathway were reoxidized by the butyric pathway and the low specific formation rate of butyric acid led to an increase in the intracellular level of acetyl-CoA and NADH. Carbon flow was higher on glycerol due to the reoxidation of NADH by both butyric and PD pathways.


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