How Bioinformatic Tools Guide Experiments To Resolve the Chaos of Apparently Unlimited Metabolic Variation.


School of Biosciences and Institute of Microbiology and Infection, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom [Email]


Hexuronic acids, oxidation products of common sugars, are widespread in eukaryotic cells. Galacturonic acid is the main carbohydrate component of pectin found in plant cell walls and glucuronic acid is a component of proteoglycans in animals. However, despite their importance as carbohydrate substrates, metabolism of hexuronic acids has long remained a poorly studied corner of the bacterial metabolic map. In the current issue of Journal of Bacteriology, Bouvier and coworkers present a detailed analysis of genes involved in hexuronate utilization in various proteobacteria and report the verification of their bioinformatics predictions by carefully designed experiments (J. T. Bouvier et al., J Bacteriol 201:e00431-18, 2019, This study provides a solid basis for understanding hexuronate metabolism and its regulation in other bacterial phyla.