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J Bacteriol. 1977 Mar; 129(3): 1574–1583.
PMCID: PMC235137

Enzymatic defenses against the toxicity of oxygen and of streptonigrin in Escherichia coli.


Anaerobically grown Escherichia coli K-12 contain only one superoxide dismutase and that is the iron-containing isozyme found in the periplasmic space. Exposure to oxygen caused the induction of a manganese-containing superoxide dismutase and of another, previously undescribed, superoxide dismutase, as well as of catalase and peroxidase. These inductions differed in their responsiveness towards oxygen. Thus the very low levels of oxygen present in deep, static, aerobic cultures were enough for nearly maximal induction of the manganese-superoxide dismutase. In contrast, induction of the new superoxide dismutase, catalase, and peroxidase required the much higher levels of oxygen achieved in vigorously agitated aerobic cultures. Anaerobically grown cells showed a much greater oxygen enhancement of the lethality of streptonigrin than did aerobically grown cells, in accord with the proposal that streptonigrin can serve as an intracellular source of superoxide. Anaerobically grown cells in which enzyme inductions were prevented by puromycin were damaged by exposure to air. This damage was evidenced both as a decline in viable cell count and as structural abnormalities evident under an electron microscope.

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Selected References

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