The initial steps of glycerol dissimilation and 1,3-propanediol (1, 3-PD) formation by Klebsiella pneumoniae anaerobically grown on glycerol were studied by quantifying the in vitro and in vivo activities of enzymes in continuous culture under conditions of steady state and oscillation and during transient phases. The enzymes studied included glycerol dehydrogenase (GDH), glycerol dehydratase (GDHt), and 1,3-propanediol oxidoreductase (PDOR). Three conclusions can be drawn from the steady-state results. First, glycerol concentration in the culture is a key parameter that inversely affects the in vitro activities (concentrations) of all three enzymes, but has a positive effect on their in vivo activities. Growth rate significantly affects the ratio of in vitro and in vivo enzyme activities under low glycerol concentrations, but not under glycerol excess. Second, whereas the flux through the oxidative pathway of glycerol dissimilation is governed mainly by the regulation of in vivo enzyme activity on a metabolic level, the flux through the reductive pathway is largely controlled by the synthesis of enzymes. Third, GDHt is a major rate-liming enzyme for the consumption of glycerol and the formation of 1,3-PD in K. pneumoniae at high glycerol concentrations. Results from oscillating cultures revealed that both in vitro and in vivo activities of the enzymes oscillated. The average values of the in vitro activities during an oscillation cycle agreed well with their corresponding values for nonoscillating cultures under similar environmental conditions. Experiments with step changes in the feed concentration of glycerol demonstrated that growth and product formation are very sensitive to changes of substrate concentration in the culture. This sensitivity is due to the dynamic responses of the genetic and metabolic networks. They should be considered when modeling the dynamics of the culture and attempting to improve the formation of 1,3-PD.
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