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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2004 Apr;7(2):168-74.

Structural features and mechanisms for sensing high osmolarity in microorganisms.

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  • 1TU Darmstadt, Institute for Microbiology and Genetics, Schnittspahnstrasse10, D-64287 Darmstadt, Germany.


During their lifetime, most organisms experience osmotic stress, mostly due to fluctuating external osmolarities, but also as a result of desiccation or freezing. Under these conditions, the ratio of osmolytes to water and macromolecules in the cells is significantly altered. To survive, cells must continuously sense these alterations and adapt accordingly. Osmolarity is a physico-chemical parameter that causes pleiotropic alterations in cell physiology. Recent research has revealed various mechanisms to sense high external osmolarity, based on monitoring cellular changes that are associated with the altered environment.

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