Genetic switches and related tools for controlling gene expression and electrical outputs of Geobacter sulfurreducens
Physiological studies and biotechnology applications of Geobacter species have been limited by a lack of genetic tools. Therefore, potential additional molecular strategies for controlling metabolism were explored. When the gene for citrate synthase, or acetyl-CoA transferase, was placed under the control of a LacI/IPTG regulator/inducer system, cells grew on acetate only in the presence of IPTG. The TetR/AT system could also be used to control citrate synthase gene expression and acetate metabolism. A strain that required IPTG for growth on d-lactate was constructed by placing the gene for d-lactate dehydrogenase under the control of the LacI/IPTG system. d-Lactate served as an inducer in a strain in which a d-lactate responsive promoter and transcription repressor were used to control citrate synthase expression. Iron- and potassium-responsive systems were successfully incorporated to regulate citrate synthase expression and growth on acetate. Linking the appropriate degradation tags on the citrate synthase protein made it possible to control acetate metabolism with either the endogenous ClpXP or exogenous Lon protease and tag system. The ability to control current output from Geobacter biofilms and the construction of an AND logic gate for acetate metabolism suggested that the tools developed may be applicable for biosensor and biocomputing applications.