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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jun 20;278(25):22846-52. Epub 2003 Apr 1.

Polyamines and glutamate decarboxylase-based acid resistance in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Biology, Environmental Radiation Research Group, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, P. O. Box 105, Yusong, Taejon 305-600, Korea.


The expression of gadA and gadB, which encode two glutamate decarboxylases (GADs) of Escherichia coli, is induced by an acidic environment and participate in acid resistance. In this study, we constructed a polyamine-deficient mutant and investigated the role of polyamines in acid resistance. The expression of gadA and gadB was shown to be dependent on polyamines. For that reason, the polyamine-deficient mutant was completely devoid of GAD activity and was very susceptible to low pH if large amounts of polyamines were not provided. We also showed that the polyamine-deficient mutant contained higher cAMP levels than the isogenic polyamine-proficient wild type, and cAMP negatively regulated the expression of gadA and gadB. Therefore, introduction of the cya (encoding adenylate cyclase) mutation allele into the polyamine-deficient mutant resulted in the increment of GAD activity and thus restored the reduced acid resistance of the mutant. The positive regulators, H-NS (histone-like protein, encoded by the hns gene) and RpoS (alternative RNA polymerase sigma subunit, encoded by rpoS gene), also significantly governed the expression of gadA and gadB, respectively. However, polyamines did not regulate either the intracellular H-NS level or rpoS expression under these culture conditions. These results strongly suggest that there are at least two different regulatory systems in acid resistance, one is positive regulation via a H-NS/RpoS system and the other is negative regulation via a polyamine/cAMP system.

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