Engineering Riboswitches for Metabolic Control and Geomicrobiology of Iron

Meiers Dixon

Hatched by Meiers Dixon

Feb 24, 2024

3 min read


Engineering Riboswitches for Metabolic Control and Geomicrobiology of Iron


In the field of genetic engineering, scientists are continually seeking innovative approaches to optimize cellular processes and enhance productivity. One such area of interest is the engineering of riboswitches, which are regulatory elements found in the mRNA molecules of bacteria. By manipulating these riboswitches, researchers aim to control the expression of specific genes and achieve desired outcomes. Additionally, in the field of geomicrobiology, the study of microorganisms and their interactions with geological materials, understanding the behavior of iron is crucial. In this article, we will explore the engineering of a lysine-ON riboswitch for metabolic control of lysine production in Corynebacterium glutamicum and dive into the fascinating world of geomicrobiology concerning iron.

Engineering a Lysine-ON Riboswitch for Metabolic Control of Lysine Production:

In the quest to improve lysine production in Corynebacterium glutamicum, scientists have turned to riboswitch engineering. Riboswitches are RNA molecules that can bind to specific molecules and influence gene expression accordingly. However, the process of improving riboswitches can have unexpected negative effects on the bacterium. For instance, classical random mutagenesis used to enhance riboswitch efficiency can lead to undesired mutations and low productivity. To overcome this challenge, a lysine-ON riboswitch was carefully screened for efficiency before being integrated into the C. glutamicum chromosome. This integration upregulated the expression of a lysine secretion-related gene, resulting in improved lysine production.

The Role of Iron in Geomicrobiology:

In the world of geomicrobiology, iron plays a vital role. In oxic environments with neutral pH, ferrous iron readily oxidizes, leading to the precipitation of ferric iron compounds such as hydroxides, oxyhydroxides, and oxides. These ferric compounds exhibit poor solubility at circumneutral pH. Moreover, the uptake of chelated ferric iron by microbial species relies on the specific receptors present at the cell surface. This interaction between ferric iron and microbial receptors is crucial for the survival and growth of these microorganisms.

Insights from Troshanov's Observations on Iron Reduction:

One intriguing finding in geomicrobiology is the impact of iron availability on microbial cultures. Troshanov observed that the form in which iron was present affected the rate of reduction. This highlights the intricate relationship between iron and microbial metabolism. Furthermore, the accumulation of acetate, a byproduct of anaerobic bacterial metabolism, suggests the generation of ATP through substrate-level phosphorylation under anoxic conditions. This process can be represented by the equation: S0 + 6Fe3+ + 4H2O → HSO4- + 6Fe2+ + 7H+.

Connecting the Dots:

By examining both the engineering of riboswitches for metabolic control and the role of iron in geomicrobiology, we can identify common points and draw connections. One such connection is the importance of understanding and manipulating cellular processes to achieve desired outcomes. Whether it's enhancing lysine production or studying iron reduction, scientists rely on their ability to engineer genetic elements and decipher the intricate mechanisms within microbial systems.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace the power of genetic engineering: Explore the potential of riboswitch engineering to control gene expression and optimize cellular processes in various organisms. This approach can revolutionize industries such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and biofuel production.
  • 2. Uncover the secrets of geomicrobiology: Delve into the fascinating field of geomicrobiology to understand the interactions between microorganisms and geological materials. By studying the behavior of elements like iron, we can gain insights into microbial metabolism and environmental processes.
  • 3. Foster interdisciplinary collaborations: Encourage collaboration between genetic engineers and geomicrobiologists to bridge the gap between these two fields. By combining expertise from different disciplines, we can unlock new possibilities and drive innovation in both areas.


The engineering of riboswitches for metabolic control and the study of iron in geomicrobiology highlight the incredible potential of genetic manipulation and the intricate connections between microorganisms and their environment. By harnessing the power of genetic engineering and exploring the complexities of geomicrobiology, we can unlock new frontiers in various industries and deepen our understanding of the natural world. Embracing these opportunities and fostering interdisciplinary collaborations will pave the way for groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in the future.

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