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Clarissa Schwab

Pathogenic and Commensal Gut Bacteria Harboring Glycerol/Diol Dehydratase Metabolize Glycerol and Produce DNA-Reactive Acrolein

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Alejandro Ramirez Garcia, ETH Zürich
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  • Katherine Hurley, ETH Zürich
  • ,
  • Giovanni Marastoni, ETH Zürich
  • ,
  • Médéric Diard, ETH Zürich
  • ,
  • Sophie Hofer, ETH Zürich
  • ,
  • Anna Greppi, ETH Zürich
  • ,
  • Wolf-Dietrich Hardt, ETH Zürich
  • ,
  • Christophe Lacroix, ETH Zürich
  • ,
  • Shana J Sturla, ETH Zürich
  • ,
  • Clarissa Schwab

Bacteria harboring glycerol/diol dehydratase (GDH) encoded by the genes pduCDE metabolize glycerol and release acrolein during growth. Acrolein has antimicrobial activity, and exposure of human cells to acrolein gives rise to toxic and mutagenic responses. These biological responses are related to acrolein's high reactivity as a chemical electrophile that can covalently bind to cellular nucleophiles including DNA and proteins. Various food microbes and gut commensals transform glycerol to acrolein, but there is no direct evidence available for bacterial glycerol metabolism giving rise to DNA adducts. Moreover, it is unknown whether pathogens, such as Salmonella Typhymurium, catalyze this transformation. We assessed, therefore, acrolein formation by four GDH-competent strains of S. Typhymurium grown under either aerobic or anaerobic conditions in the presence of 50 mM glycerol. On the basis of analytical derivatization with a heterocyclic amine, all wild-type strains were observed to produce acrolein, but to different extents, and acrolein production was not detected in fermentations of a pduC-deficient mutant strain. Furthermore, we found that, in the presence of calf thymus DNA, acrolein-DNA adducts were formed as a result of bacterial glycerol metabolism by two strains of Limosilactobacillus reuteri, but not a pduCDE mutant strain. The quantification of the resulting adducts with increasing levels of glycerol up to 600 mM led to the production of up to 1.5 mM acrolein and 3600 acrolein-DNA adducts per 108 nucleosides in a model system. These results suggest that GDH-competent food microbes, gut commensals, and pathogens alike have the capacity to produce acrolein from glycerol. Further, the acrolein production can lead to DNA adduct formation, but requires high glycerol concentrations that are not available in the human gut.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Research in Toxicology
Pages (from-to)1840-1850
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

    Research areas

  • Acrolein/toxicity, Amines, Anti-Infective Agents, Bacteria/genetics, DNA, DNA Adducts, Glycerol/metabolism, Humans, Propanediol Dehydratase/metabolism

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