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J Bacteriol. May 1981; 146(2): 676–683.
PMCID: PMC217012

Toxicity of leucine-containing peptides in Escherichia coli caused by circumvention of leucine transport regulation.


A variety of leucine-containing peptides (LCP), Phe-Leu, Gly-Leu, Pro-Leu, Ala-Leu, Ala-Leu-Lys, Leu-Phe-Ala, Leu-Leu-Leu, and Leu-Gly-Gly, inhibited the growth of a prototrophic strain of Escherichia coli K-12 at concentrations between 0.05 and 0.28 mM. Toxicity requires normal uptake of peptides. When peptide transport was impaired by mutations, strains became resistant to the respective LCP. Inhibition of growth occurred immediately after the addition of LCP, and was relieved when 0.4 mM isoleucine was added. The presence of Gly-Leu in the medium correlated with the inhibition of growth, and the bacteria began to grow at the normal rate 70 min after Gly-Leu became undetectable. Disappearance of the peptide corresponded with the appearance of free leucine and glycine in the medium. The concentration of leucine inside the LCP-treated bacteria was higher than that in the leucine-treated and the control cultures. We suggest that entry of LCP into the cells via peptide transport systems circumvents the regulation of leucine transport, thereby causing abnormality high concentrations of leucine inside the cells. This accumulation of leucine interferes with the biosynthesis of isoleucine and inhibits the growth of the bacteria.

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Selected References

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