Unsaturated fatty acid requirement in Escherichia coli: mechanism of palmitate-induced inhibition of growth of strain WN1.
The minimum requirement for unsaturated fatty acids was investigated in E. coli using a mutant impaired in the synthesis of vaccenic acid. Exogenously supplied palmitic acid was incorporated by this mutant which led to a reduction in the proportion of cellular unsaturated fatty acids. Growth was impaired as the level of saturated fatty acids approached 76% at 37 degree C and 60% at 30 degree C. The basis of this growth inhibition was investigated. Most transport systems and enzymes examined remained active in palmitate-grown cells although the specific activities of glutamate uptake and succinic dehydrogenase were depressed 50%. Fluorescent probes of membrane organization indicated that fluidity decreased with palmitate incorporation. Temperature scans with parinaric acid indicated that rigid lipid domains exist in palmitate-grown cells at their respective growth temperature. Freeze-fracture electron microscopy confirmed the presence of phase separations (particle-free areas) in palmitate-grown cells held at their growth temperature prior to quenching. The extent of this separation into particle-free and particle-enriched domains was equivalent to that induced by a shift to 0 degree C in control cells. The incorporation of palmitate increased nucleotide leakage over threefold. The cytoplasmic enzyme beta-galactosidase was released into the surrounding medium as the concentration of unsaturated fatty acid approached the minimum for a particular growth temperature. Lysis was observed as a decrease in turbidity when cells which had been grown with palmitate were shifted a lower growth temperature. From these results we propose that leakage and partial lysis are the major factors contributing to the apparent decrease in growth rate caused by the excessive incorporation of palmitate. Further, we propose that membrane integrity may determine the minimum requirement for unsaturated fatty acids in E. coli rather than a specific effect on membrane transport and/or membrane-bound enzymes.
Ingram, LO; Eaton, LC; Erdos, GW; Tedder, TF; Vreeland, NL
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