Investigation of the Metabolic Role of Triose Phosphate Isomerase (TPI) in the Physiological Function of Myxococcus xanthus

April 11, 2021   /  

Name: Sienna Carr
Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Minor: Environmental Studies
Advisors: Dr. Dean Fraga, Dr. Erszébet Regan (second reader)

Myxococcus xanthusis a well studied bacterial species in the myxobacteria family as it has several unique features such as its two different motility systems and an ability to form multicellular fruiting bodies under low nutrient conditions. It releases secondary metabolites with rare structural elements that pique the interest of the pharmaceutical industry. These cellular elements of M. xanthusare highly dependent upon its metabolic profile. M. xanthusprey upon small insoluble organic substances such as amino acids and phosphates which enter the Embden-Meyerhof pathway for gluconeogenesis. An essential enzyme in this pathway is triosephosphate isomerase (TPI) that catalyzes the interconversion of dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP) and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P). This enzyme is seen in both glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, but only gluconeogenic activity is seen in M. xanthus. Considering the importance of this enzyme in the gluconeogenic pathway, it can be assumed that this enzyme is essential to many of the physiological functions inM. xanthus that are dependent upon products of gluconeogenesis.

It was predicted that essential metabolic pathways in the cell would be disrupted and phenotypic variations in chemotactic abilities, fruiting body formation, and coloration would be observed since they involve polysaccharide slime formation and release of secondary metabolites. Qualitative data observing chemotaxis and fruiting body formation showed some minor phenotypic differences. This finding suggests that TPI disrupts the formation of the sugar products of the gluconeogenic pathway that are needed for chemotactic extension and fruiting body formation.

Sienna will be online to field comments on April 16:
noon-2pm EDT (PST: 9-11am, Africa/Europe: late afternoon)

17 thoughts on “Investigation of the Metabolic Role of Triose Phosphate Isomerase (TPI) in the Physiological Function of Myxococcus xanthus”

  1. Hi Sienna!

    Congratulations, it’s so exciting to see the results of all your hard work paying off–very proud!! How has (or has) working on this project shaped what you think you might want to pursue for a career? I can’t wait to see where you go next!

    1. Thank you so much Emma! This is a good question as the work I have done has shaped what I want to do in the future. For my research I studied a soil bacteria, and after all my research it has made me gain an interest in other soil microbes. I hope to further study in the field of environmental microbiology, specifically with soil microbes.

  2. Hi Sienna,

    Congratulations! You make your Dad very proud. I do not understand the science, but it appears to be an impressive study.

  3. Sienna- you make us all proud of the hard work you have done. Congratulations!

  4. I am pretty far removed from my courses in biology but I am going to give my best shot at asking a question:

    Is there an interest in using the TPI produced by M. xanthus in other applications beyond use in microbiology?

    1. Hi Sierra,
      Thanks for attempting a question on my research. TPI is an interesting enzyme to study because it is a kinetically perfect enzyme as it catalyzes the conversion of its substrate immediately upon binding. So, it makes TPI interesting to study in terms of enzymatic activity. TPI is also interesting to study in the medical industry because less function of this enzyme due to modification can lead to a build up of a toxic molecule known as methylglyoxal (MG) linked to aging, hyperglycemia, and type-2 diabetes.

  5. Congratulations, Sienna. We are very proud of you and your accomplishments. I, too, don’t understand science, but your thesis is very impressive.

  6. Congratulations Sienna! They work you have done is amazing. The Poster looks great!

  7. I would like to say thank you to my friends and family for the congratulatory messages. I love and appreciate you all so much!

  8. Congratulations, Sienna! I fear that I am out of my depth, here, to pose a content-based question. But I can remark on how great it is to see how far you have come since FYS, producing robust BCMB research under less than ideal conditions! I am happy to see in the comments above that you are planning to pursue related research in the future… I wish you all the best in this and all your future endeavors!

    1. Dr. Freeze,
      I am happy to say I have definitely come a long way since my days in FYS. Thank you so much for being one of the professors who prepared me for my future.

  9. So excited to see you presenting all your hard work! You’ve done amazing! Poster looks wonderful!

  10. Congratulations, Sienna! I only have one question for you, and that is what is the significance of the fruiting body formation? Does it signify importance or is it just an effect of the function of Myxococcus Xanthas?

    1. Thanks for the question Katie! The fruiting body formation is a unique feature in M. xanthus because it is the formation of multicellular mounds under nutrient poor conditions which is not commonly seen in bacteria. By the cells congregating and sharing their nutrients they can survive better. This feature is studied because to form these multicellular mounds it takes a lot of intercellular signaling, which is a form of communication between cells. Cellular signaling is a topic that scientists are still trying to figure out since it is so complex, so M. xanthus is one of the model organisms for studying cellular signaling. Hope this answered your question.

  11. Wow congratulations Sienna! I enjoyed reading your thesis. Wonderful job and meticulously written!

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