Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Chung-Dar Lu - Chair

Second Advisor

Jenny J Yang

Third Advisor

Phang C Tai


Arginine utilization in Pseudomonas aeruginosa with multiple catabolic pathways represents one of the best examples of metabolic versatility of this organism. To identify genes of this complex arginine network, we employed DNA microarray to analyze the transcriptional profiles of this organism in response to L-arginine. While most genes in arginine uptake, regulation and metabolism have been identified as members of the ArgR regulon in our previous study, eighteen putative transcriptional units of 38 genes including the two known genes of the arginine dehydrogenase (ADH) pathway, kauB and gbuA, were found inducible by exogenous L-arginine but independent of ArgR. The potential physiological functions of those candidate genes in L-arginine utilization were studied by growth phenotype analysis in knockout mutants. The insertion mutation of aruH encoding an L-arginine:pyruvate transaminase abolished the capability to grow on L-arginine of an aruF mutant devoid of a functional arginine succinyltransferase (AST) pathway, the major route of arginine utilization. The aruH gene was cloned and over-expressed in E. coli. Taking L-arginine and pyruvate as the substrates, the reaction products of recombinant enzyme were identified by MS and HPLC as 2-ketoarginine and L-alanine. Lineweaver-Burk plots of the data revealed a series of parallel lines characteristic of ping-pong kinetics mechanism, and the apparent Km and catalytic efficiency (Kcat/Km) were 1.6 ± 0.1 mM and 24.1 mM-1 s-1 for pyruvate and 13.9 ± 0.8 mM and 2.8 mM-1 s-1 for L-arginine. Recombinant AruH showed an optimal pH at 9.0 and substrate specificity with an order of preference being Arg > Lys > Met > Leu > Orn > Gln. These data led us to propose the arginine transaminase (ATA) pathway that removes the α-amino group of L-arginine via transamination instead of oxidative deamination by dehydrogenase or oxidase as originally proposed. In the same genetic locus, we also identified a two-component system, AruRS, for the regulation of arginine-responsive induction of the ATA pathway. Our latest DNA microarray experiments under D-arginine conditions also revealed PA3863 as the candidate gene encoding D-arginine dehydrogenase which might lead to the recognition of a wider network of arginine metabolism than we previously recognized.


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