The effect of propionate on the growth and 4-androstene-3, 17-dion (AD) yield was investigated in cultures of Mycobacterium sp. NRRL B-3805 growing in minimal medium containing β-sitosterol as substrate for selective side chain cleavage. Although the addition of propionate (PA) resulted in a concentration-dependent inhibition of growth at the beginning of fermentation, cultures started to grow in the presence of 0.1% of propionic acid reached an AD concentration 38% higher than the cultures growing in the absence of propionate during two day cultivation. After three days of incubation, the AD yields in cultures containing 0, 0.1 and 0.2% propionate at the inoculation were 68, 79 and 73%, while the protein levels were 2.01, 2.11 and 2.60 mg/ml, respectively. Our data showed that the positive effect of PA on the AD production from sterols by Mycobacterium sp. NRRL B-3805 could be explained by the induction of the enzymes of the methylmalonate pathway. The activity of propionyl-CoA carboxylase was about 30% higher in the crude extracts from the induced cultures growing in minimal medium, after 20 hours of growth, than in those from the controls (18.2 and 14.1 mU/mg, respectively, using propionyl-CoA as substrate). The distribution of the acid-stable 14C-radioactivity which built into methylmalonate, succinate and fumarate indicated that methylmalonyl-CoA mutase was also induced. Our data demonstrated that elimination of the toxic propionyl-CoA released from the side chain of the sterol is likely the rate-determining step of the AD production, at least at the beginning of the process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology