Strains of the Gram-positive, thermophilic bacterium Geobacillus stearothermophilus possess elaborate systems for the utilization of hemicellulolytic polysaccharides, including xylan, arabinan, and galactan. These systems have been studied extensively in strains T-1 and T-6, representing microbial models for the utilization of soil polysaccharides, and many of their components have been characterized both biochemically and structurally. Here, we characterized routes by which G. stearothermophilus utilizes mono- and disaccharides such as galactose, cellobiose, lactose, and galactosyl-glycerol. The G. stearothermophilus genome encodes a phosphoenolpyruvate carbohydrate phosphotransferase system (PTS) for cellobiose. We found that the cellobiose-PTS system is induced by cellobiose and characterized the corresponding GH1 6-phospho-b-glucosidase, Cel1A. The bacterium also possesses two transport systems for galactose, a galactose-PTS system and an ABC galactose transporter. The ABC galactose transport system is regulated by a three-component sensing system. We observed that both systems, the sensor and the transporter, utilize galactose-binding proteins that also bind glucose with the same affinity. We hypothesize that this allows the cell to control the flux of galactose into the cell in the presence of glucose. Unexpectedly, we discovered that G. stearothermophilus T-1 can also utilize lactose and galactosyl-glycerol via the cellobiose-PTS system together with a bifunctional 6-phospho-b-gal/glucosidase, Gan1D. Growth curves of strain T-1 growing in the presence of cellobiose, with either lactose or galactosyl-glycerol, revealed initially logarithmic growth on cellobiose and then linear growth supported by the additional sugars. We conclude that Gan1D allows the cell to utilize residual galactose-containing disaccharides, taking advantage of the promiscuity of the cellobiose-PTS system.
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© 2020 Shulami et al.