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J Bacteriol. Apr 1978; 134(1): 84–91.
PMCID: PMC222221

Pathway of Succinate and Propionate Formation in Bacteroides fragilis


Cell suspensions of Bacteroides fragilis were allowed to ferment glucose and lactate labeled with 14C in different positions. The fermentation products, propionate and acetate, were isolated, and the distribution of radioactivity was determined. An analysis of key enzymes of possible pathways was also made. The results of the labeling experiments showed that: (i) B. fragilis ferments glucose via the Embden-Meyerhof pathway; and (ii) there was a randomization of carbons 1, 2, and 6 of glucose during conversion to propionate, which is in accordance with propionate formation via fumarate and succinate. The enzymes 6-phosphofrucktokinase (pyrophosphate-dependent), fructose-1,6-diphosphate aldolase, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, malate dehydrogenase, fumarate reductase, and methylmalonyl-coenzyme A mutase could be demonstrated in cell extracts. Their presence supported the labeling results and suggested that propionate is formed from succinate via succinyl-, methylmalonyl-, and propionyl-coenzyme A. From the results it also is clear that CO2 is necessary for growth because it is needed for the formation of C4 acids. There was also a randomization of carbons 1, 2, and 6 of glucose during conversion to acetate, which indicated that pyruvate kinase played a minor role in pyruvate formation from phosphoenolpyruvate. Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, oxaloacetate decarboxylase, and malic enzyme (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-dependent) were present in cell extracts of B. fragilis, and the results of the labeling experiments agreed with pyruvate synthesis via oxaloacetate and malate if these acids are in equilibrium with fumarate. The conversion of [2-14C]- and [3-14C]lactate to acetate was not associated with a randomization of radioactivity.

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Selected References

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