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J Bacteriol. 1998 Mar;180(6):1454-9.

Import and metabolism of glutathione by Streptococcus mutans.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093, USA.


Glutathione (gamma-GluCysGly, GSH) is not found in most gram-positive bacteria, but some appear to synthesize it and others, including Streptococcus mutans ATCC 33402, import it from their growth medium. Import of oxidized glutathione (GSSG) by S. mutans 33402 in 7H9 medium was shown to require glucose and to occur with an apparent Km of 18+/-5 microM. GSSG, GSH, S-methylglutathione, and homocysteine-glutathione mixed disulfide (hCySSG) were imported at comparable rates (measured by depletion of substrate in the medium), as was the disulfide of gamma-GluCys. In contrast, the disulfide of CysGly was not taken up at a measurable rate, indicating that the gamma-Glu residue is important for efficient transport. During incubation with GSSG, little GSSG was detected in cells but GSH and gamma-GluCys accumulated during the first 30 min and then declined. No significant intracellular accumulation of Cys or sulfide was found. Transient intracellular accumulation of D/L-homocysteine, as well as GSH and gamma-GluCys, was observed during import of hCySSG. Although substantial levels of GSH were found in cells when S. mutans was grown on media containing glutathione, such GSH accumulation had no effect on the growth rate. However, the presence of cellular GSH did protect against growth inhibition by the thiol-oxidizing agent diamide. Import of glutathione by S. mutans ATCC 25175, which like strain 33402 does not synthesize glutathione, occurred at a rate comparable to that of strain 33402, but three species which appear to synthesize glutathione (S. agalactiae ATCC 12927, S. pyogenes ATCC 8668, and Enterococcus faecalis ATCC 29212) imported glutathione at negligible or markedly lower rates.

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