Bacterial lipopolysaccharide core structures mediate effects of butanol ingress.


School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 60 Nanyang Drive, 637551, Singapore. Electronic address: [Email]


The outer membrane (OM) is the first defence for Gram-negative bacteria against their environments making it important in strain improvement for sustainable biobutanol production. While modifying the OM structure using chemical additives could enhance microbial viability, there are currently no model systems that accurately describe OM responses to butanol. Here, we experimentally determined that reducing the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) core length and charge increased Escherichia coli sensitivity to butanol. In silico models were built to describe how OM structure contributes to its ability to withstand butanol under conditions of exposure and production. Consistent with experiments, resistance to ingress of butanol into OMs correlates with both core length and charge, where a lower charge density is more conducive to butanol assimilation. The core length and branching correlate with the lateral spacing of the lipids, suggestive of a role of them in maintaining OM fluidity. In contrast to systems with short-length LPS cores, butanol intercalation into OMs with longer LPS cores increases membrane order and rigidity, which might be due to their more porous internal structure. These findings will assist the development of more butanol-tolerant biobutanol-producing bacteria, where thicker, more compact and less polar LPS-core surfaces reinforce the integrity of OMs and further improve resilience in extreme environments.


Butanol tolerance,Lipopolysaccharide core structures,Molecular dynamics simulation,Outer membrane,

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