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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1994 Jul;60(7):2360-6.

Expression of superoxide dismutase in Listeria monocytogenes.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


The nature and expression of superoxide dismutase (SOD; EC in the gram-positive food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes were examined. Metal depletion and reconstitution studies and resistance to H2O2 and potassium cyanide inactivation indicated that L. monocytogenes has a single SOD which utilizes manganese as a metal cofactor. The specific activity of SOD was unchanged in cells exposed to a heat shock at 42 degrees C or grown in the presence of paraquat-generated superoxide anion or of metal chelators in the medium. SOD levels increased, however, as the cells progressed through the logarithmic phase of growth and into the stationary phase. Furthermore, SOD activity decreased with decreasing growth temperatures and declined concurrently with decreased growth when higher concentrations of sodium chloride were added to the medium. Cells grown anaerobically possessed relatively high levels of SOD, although these levels were about 10 to 30% lower than those of aerobically grown bacteria. Different isolates of L. monocytogenes were found to produce approximately equivalent levels of SOD, although greater differences in SOD expression were seen among other species of Listeria. When compared with L. monocytogenes, for example, Listeria welshimeri typically produced about 30% greater SOD activity, whereas Listeria murrayi produced about 60% less total SOD activity. Although all species of Listeria produced a single Mn-type SOD, differences in the relative electrophoretic mobility of the native enzymes were noted. These data suggest that the single L. monocytogenes SOD enzyme is constitutively produced in response to many environmental factors and may also be responsive to the cellular growth rate.

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