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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Catabolism and nitrogen control in Escherichia coli.

It would appear from these studies that nitrogen control reflects the catabolic capacity of the cell and that utilizable nitrogen sources and some carbon sources are, to some extent, in competition for this capacity. The series of catabolic events initiated by addition of D-amino acids or by growth on aldol sugars, in the presence of ammonia nitrogen in the growth medium, provide an opportunity for study of the positive aspect of nitrogen control under conditions where negative control predominates. This approach may eventually clarify the apparent interactions between the modification cascade components, PII and UT/UR, with the nitrogen regulatory gene, glnG. The utilization of nutrients by E. coli seems less a matter of energy than of expeditious use of whatever is offered in the diet. A comparison of the rate of increase of GS on cultural downshift with the rate of increase following D-glutamate addition would suggest that control by nitrogen limitation is about eight times more effective than positive activation by D-glutamate in the presence of ammonia nitrogen. This observation is consistent with the finding of an additive effect for the D-amino acids which can function as positive activators in GS regulation. It has been demonstrated for the wild-type organism that the increase in GS level generated by a mixture of D-glutamate, D-lysine, D-threonine, and glycine approximates the increase in GS level observed during step-down of the culture from an ammonia-sufficient to an ammonia-limited condition. This observation further supports the physiologic relevance of the effect of D-amino acids in nitrogen control and suggests that the apparent derepression of GS observed upon exhaustion of the ammonia nitrogen supply represents a composite of positive activation generated as alternative catabolic functions assume a greater importance. As might be expected, addition of D-glutamate to cells at the point of ammonia exhaustion had no additional positive effect. Following a downshift from glucose-ammonia-glutamine to glucose-glutamine cultural conditions, only the level of GS increases during the initial 60-minute observation period. This finding suggests that glutamine catabolism may, like D-threonine, D-lysine, and glycine, bypass the positive activation of GDH and GAT controls. The likely possibility in that the increases observed for GAT and GDH depend on D-glutamate as specific inducer. There are several instances where D-amino acids function as inducers of L-amino acid dehydrogenases and where amino acid racemase activity is directly coupled to flavoprotein dehydrogenases.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


  1. Catabolism and nitrogen control in Escherichia coli. Berberich, M.A. Curr. Top. Cell. Regul. (1985) [Pubmed]
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