Bacterial Microcompartment-Dependent 1,2-Propanediol Utilization of Propionibacterium freudenreichii

Alexander Dank, Zhe Zeng, Sjef Boeren, Richard A. Notebaart, Eddy J. Smid*, Tjakko Abee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are proteinaceous prokaryotic organelles that enable the utilization of substrates such as 1,2-propanediol and ethanolamine. BMCs are mostly linked to the survival of particular pathogenic bacteria by providing a growth advantage through utilization of 1,2-propanediol and ethanolamine which are abundantly present in the human gut. Although a 1,2-propanediol utilization cluster was found in the probiotic bacterium Propionibacterium freudenreichii, BMC-mediated metabolism of 1,2-propanediol has not been demonstrated experimentally in P. freudenreichii. In this study we show that P. freudenreichii DSM 20271 metabolizes 1,2-propanediol in anaerobic conditions to propionate and 1-propanol. Furthermore, 1,2-propanediol induced the formation of BMCs, which were visualized by transmission electron microscopy and resembled BMCs found in other bacteria. Proteomic analysis of 1,2-propanediol grown cells compared to L-lactate grown cells showed significant upregulation of proteins involved in propanediol-utilization (pdu-cluster), DNA repair mechanisms and BMC shell proteins while proteins involved in oxidative phosphorylation were down-regulated. 1,2-Propanediol utilizing cells actively produced vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in similar amounts as cells growing on L-lactate. The ability to metabolize 1,2-propanediol may have implications for human gut colonization and modulation, and can potentially aid in delivering propionate and vitamin B12 in situ.

Original languageEnglish
Article number679827
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2021


  • bacterial microcompartments
  • intestine
  • metabolosome
  • probiotic
  • propanediol utilization cluster
  • Propionibacterium freudenreichii
  • vitamin B


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