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J Bacteriol. 1988 Jan;170(1):416-21.

Metabolism of L-fucose and L-rhamnose in Escherichia coli: aerobic-anaerobic regulation of L-lactaldehyde dissimilation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona (Pedralbes), Spain.


L-Lactaldehyde is a branching point in the metabolic pathway of L-fucose and L-rhamnose utilization. Under aerobic conditions, L-lactaldehyde is oxidized to L-lactate by the enzyme lactaldehyde dehydrogenase, while under anaerobic conditions, L-lactaldehyde is reduced to L-1,2-propanediol by the enzyme propanediol oxidoreductase. Aerobic growth on either of the methyl pentoses induces a lactaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme which is inhibited by NADH and is very stable under anaerobic conditions. In the absence of oxygen, the cell shifts from the oxidation of L-lactaldehyde to its reduction, owing to both the induction of propanediol oxidoreductase activity and the decrease in the NAD/NADH ratio. The oxidation of L-lactaldehyde to L-lactate is again restored upon a change to aerobic conditions. In this case, only the NAD/NADH ratio may be invoked as a regulatory mechanism, since both enzymes remain active after this change. Experimental evidence in the presence of rhamnose with mutants unable to produce L-lactaldehyde and mutants capable of producing but not further metabolizing it points toward L-lactaldehyde as the effector molecule in the induction of lactaldehyde dehydrogenase. Analysis of a temperature-sensitive mutation affecting the synthesis of lactaldehyde dehydrogenase permitted us to locate an apparently single regulator gene linked to the ald locus at 31 min and probably acting as a positive control element on the expression of the structural gene.

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