Engineered ribosomal RNA operon copy-number variants of E. coli reveal the evolutionary trade-offs shaping rRNA operon number

Zsuzsanna Gyorfy, Gabor Draskovits, Viktor Vernyik, Frederick F. Blattner, Tamas Gaal, G. Pósfai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ribosomal RNA (rrn) operons, characteristically present in several copies in bacterial genomes (7 in E. coli), play a central role in cellular physiology. We investigated the factors determining the optimal number of rrn operons in E. coli by constructing isogenic variants with 5-10 operons. We found that the total RNA and protein content, as well as the size of the cells reflected the number of rrn operons. While growth parameters showed only minor differences, competition experiments revealed a clear pattern: 7-8 copies were optimal under conditions of fluctuating, occasionally rich nutrient influx and lower numbers were favored in stable, nutrient-limited environments. We found that the advantages of quick adjustment to nutrient availability, rapid growth and economic regulation of ribosome number all contribute to the selection of the optimal rrn operon number. Our results suggest that the wt rrn operon number of E. coli reflects the natural, 'feast and famine' lifestyle of the bacterium, however, different copy numbers might be beneficial under different environmental conditions. Understanding the impact of the copy number of rrn operons on the fitness of the cell is an important step towards the creation of functional and robust genomes, the ultimate goal of synthetic biology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1783-1794
Number of pages12
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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rRNA Operon
Ribosomal RNA
Operon
Escherichia coli
Synthetic Biology
Bacterial Genomes
Social Adjustment
Food
Economic Development
Starvation
Ribosomes
Life Style
Cell Count
Genome
RNA
Bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

Cite this

Engineered ribosomal RNA operon copy-number variants of E. coli reveal the evolutionary trade-offs shaping rRNA operon number. / Gyorfy, Zsuzsanna; Draskovits, Gabor; Vernyik, Viktor; Blattner, Frederick F.; Gaal, Tamas; Pósfai, G.

In: Nucleic Acids Research, Vol. 43, No. 3, 2015, p. 1783-1794.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gyorfy, Zsuzsanna ; Draskovits, Gabor ; Vernyik, Viktor ; Blattner, Frederick F. ; Gaal, Tamas ; Pósfai, G. / Engineered ribosomal RNA operon copy-number variants of E. coli reveal the evolutionary trade-offs shaping rRNA operon number. In: Nucleic Acids Research. 2015 ; Vol. 43, No. 3. pp. 1783-1794.
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