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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2003 Jan 28;218(2):245-50.

Lactate carbon does not enter the sugars of lipopolysaccharide when gonococci are grown in a medium containing glucose and lactate: implications in vivo.

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School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT, Birmingham, UK.


In media containing glucose, lactate stimulates the metabolism of gonococci at concentrations that simulate conditions in vivo. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy of (13)C-labelled lipids obtained from gonococci grown in a synthetic medium with (13)C-labelled lactate and unlabelled glucose (culture A), (13)C-labelled glucose alone (culture B) or (13)C-labelled glucose and unlabelled lactate (culture C) showed lactate carbon was not present in glycerol/ethanolamine residues of lipids from culture A. This indicated that, in the presence of glucose, lactate gluconeogenesis is shut down. Hence, the stimulation of metabolism could result from the production of extra energy because lactate is used solely for conversion to acetyl-CoA, the precursor of fatty acid synthesis and the components of the tricarboxylic acid cycle. In this paper, additional evidence for lack of gluconeogenesis has been sought using a different approach. The carbohydrate moieties of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) have been examined for lactate carbon after gonococci were grown with lactate and glucose. Two methods were used: NMR spectroscopy of (13)C-labelled lipopolysaccharide purified from the three cultures described above showed that, in the presence of glucose, lactate carbon, in contrast to glucose carbon, was not in the carbohydrate moiety. Also, (14)C-labelled lactate was added to a culture containing unlabelled glucose and lactate (culture A) and [(14)C]glucose to cultures containing unlabelled glucose without unlabelled lactate (culture B) and with unlabelled lactate (culture C). When LPS samples purified from these cultures were subjected to hydrazinolysis, the ratio of the radioactivity of water-soluble products (carbohydrate moieties) to those of chloroform-soluble products (fatty acids) was much lower when [(14)C]lactate was used in culture A, than when [(14)C]glucose was used in cultures B and C. Thus, in the presence of glucose, lactate carbon, unlike glucose carbon, is incorporated predominantly into fatty acids of LPS, not into its carbohydrate moieties. There is no doubt, therefore, that gluconeogenesis is shut off when lactate is present with glucose and there is a consequent stimulation of metabolism. This probably occurs in vivo on mucous surfaces, where gonococci are surrounded by a mixture of glucose and lactate in the secretions.

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