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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2003 Dec;27(5):617-28.

Ammonium assimilation and nitrogen control in Corynebacterium glutamicum and its relatives: an example for new regulatory mechanisms in actinomycetes.

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Institut für Biochemie der Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher-Strasse 47, 50674 Cologne, Germany.


Nitrogen is an essential component of nearly all complex macromolecules in a bacterial cell, such as proteins, nucleic acids and cell wall components. Accordingly, most prokaryotes have developed elaborate control mechanisms to provide an optimal supply of nitrogen for cellular metabolism and to cope with situations of nitrogen limitation. In this review, recent advances in our knowledge of ammonium uptake, its assimilation, and related regulatory systems in Corynebacterium glutamicum, a Gram-positive soil bacterium used for the industrial production of amino acids, are summarized and discussed with respect to the situation in the bacterial model organisms, Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, and in comparison to the situation in other actinomycetes, namely in mycobacteria and streptomycetes. The regulatory network of nitrogen control in C. glutamicum seems to be a patchwork of different elements. It includes proteins similar to the UTase/GlnK pathway of E. coli and expression regulation by a repressor protein as in B. subtilis, but it lacks an NtrB/NtrC two-component signal transduction system. Furthermore, the C. glutamicum regulation network has unique features, such as a new sensing mechanism. Based on its extremely well-investigated central metabolism, well-established molecular biology tools, a public genome sequence and a newly-established proteome project, C. glutamicum seems to be a suitable model organism for other corynebacteria, such as Corynebacterium diphtheriae and Corynebacterium efficiens.

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