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J Bacteriol. 1994 Jan;176(1):15-20.

The pho regulon-dependent Ugp uptake system for glycerol-3-phosphate in Escherichia coli is trans inhibited by Pi.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Germany.


sn-Glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P) or glyceryl phosphoryl phosphodiesters, the substrates of the phoB-dependent Ugp transport system, when transported exclusively through this system, can serve as a sole source of phosphate but not as a sole source of carbon (H. Schweizer, M. Argast, and W. Boos, J. Bacteriol. 150:1154-1163, 1982). In order to explain this phenomenon, we tested two possibilities: repression of the pho regulon by Ugp-mediated transport and feedback inhibition by internal G3P or its degradation product Pi. Using an ugp-lacZ fusion, we found that the expression of ugp does not decline upon exposure to G3P, in contrast to the repressing effect of transport of Pi via the Pst system. This indicated that the Ugp system becomes inhibited after the uptake and metabolism of G3P. Using 32P-labeled G3P, we observed that little Pi is released by cells taking up G3P via the Ugp system but large amounts of Pi are released when the cells are taking up G3P via the GlpT system. Using a glpD mutant that could not oxidize G3P but which could still phosphorylate exogenous glycerol to G3P after GlpF-mediated transport of glycerol, we could not find trans inhibition of Ugp-mediated uptake of exogenous 14C-G3P. However, when allowing uptake of Pi via Pst, we observed a time-dependent inhibition of 14C-G3P taken up by the Ugp transport system. Inhibition was half maximal after 2 min and could be elicited by Pi concentrations below 0.5 mM. Cells had to be starved for Pi in order to observe this inhibition. We conclude that the activity of the Ugp transport system is controlled by the level of internal phosphate.

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