Transient protein-protein interactions perturb E.coli metabolome and cause gene dosage toxicity

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Sanchari BhattacharyyaEugene Shakhnovich


Several genes exhibit gene dosage toxicity yet its molecular underpinnings remain unknown. Here we demonstrate that overexpression of DHFR in E. coli causes toxic metabolic imbalance triggered by interactions with several enzymes involved in 1-carbon metabolism, in particular GlyA and PurH. DHFR overexpression partially inhibits activity of these enzymes, but at physiological concentrations, PurH-DHFR interaction enhances catalytic efficiency of DHFR, implying a functional interaction in vivo. Surprisingly, overexpression of orthologous DHFRs from other bacterial species caused minimal metabolic and fitness perturbations, despite pulling out more interacting partners than overexpressed endogenous DHFR. Orthologous DHFRs were less potent in inhibiting E. coli GlyA and PurH, or gaining a catalytic improvement upon interaction with PurH, indicating a partial loss of interaction specificity due to evolutionary divergence. This study shows how protein overexpression perturbs a dynamic network of weak yet potentially functional PPI with consequences for the metabolic state of cells and their fitness.

Related Concepts

Escherichia coli
Tetrahydrofolate Dehydrogenase
Proton Pump Inhibitors
Underdose (Unintentional)
Dihydrofolate Reductase Activity
Orthologous Gene

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