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J Bacteriol. Dec 1971; 108(3): 1072–1086.
PMCID: PMC247190

Adenylate Energy Charge in Escherichia coli During Growth and Starvation

Abstract

The value of the adenylate energy charge, [(adenosine triphosphate) + ½ (adenosine diphosphate)]/[(adenosine triphosphate) + (adenosine diphosphate) + (adenosine monophosphate)], in Escherichia coli cells during growth is about 0.8. During the stationary phase after cessation of growth, or during starvation in carbon-limited cultures, the energy charge declines slowly to a value of about 0.5, and then falls more rapidly. During the slow decline in energy charge, all the cells are capable of forming colonies, but a rapid fall in viability coincides with the steep drop in energy charge. These results suggest that growth can occur only at energy charge values above about 0.8, that viability is maintained at values between 0.8 and 0.5, and that cells die at values below 0.5. Tabulation of adenylate concentrations previously reported for various organisms and tissues supports the prediction, based on enzyme kinetic observations in vitro, that the energy charge is stabilized near 0.85 in intact metabolizing cells of a wide variety of types.

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