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Appl Environ Microbiol. May 1997; 63(5): 1826–1837.
PMCID: PMC168475

Induction of heat shock proteins DnaK, GroEL, and GroES by salt stress in Lactococcus lactis.


The bacterium Lactococcus lactis has become a model organism in studies of growth physiology and membrane transport, as a result of its simple fermentative metabolism. It is also used as a model for studying the importance of specific genes and functions during life in excess nutrients, by comparison of prototrophic wild-type strains and auxotrophic domesticated (dairy) strains. In a study of the capacity of domesticated strains to perform directed responses toward various stress conditions, we have analyzed the heat and salt stress response in the established L. lactis subsp. cremoris laboratory strain MG1363, which was originally derived from a dairy strain. After two-dimensional separation of proteins, the DnaK, GroEL, and GroES heat shock proteins, the HrcA (Orf1) heat shock repressor, and the glycolytic enzymes pyruvate kinase, glyceral-dehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, and phosphoglycerate kinase were identified by a combination of Western blotting and direct N-terminal amino acid sequencing of proteins from the gels. Of 400 to 500 visible proteins, 17 were induced more than twofold during heat stress. Two classes of heat stress proteins were identified from their temporal induction pattern. The fast-induced proteins (including DnaK) showed an abruptly increased rate of synthesis during the first 10 min, declining to intermediate levels after 15 min. GroEL and GroES, which also belong to this group, maintained a high rate of synthesis after 15 min. The class of slowly induced proteins exhibited a gradual increase in the rate of synthesis after the onset of stress. Unlike other organisms, all salt stress-induced proteins in L. lactis were also subjected to heat stress induction. DnaK, GroEL, and GroES showed similar temporal patterns of induction during salt stress, resembling the timing during heat stress although at a lower induction level. These data indicate an overlap between the heat shock and salt stress responses in L. lactis.

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