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J Bacteriol. 2005 Mar;187(5):1581-90.

Experimental identification and quantification of glucose metabolism in seven bacterial species.

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Institute of Biotechnology, ETH Zürich, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland.


The structurally conserved and ubiquitous pathways of central carbon metabolism provide building blocks and cofactors for the biosynthesis of cellular macromolecules. The relative uses of pathways and reactions, however, vary widely among species and depend upon conditions, and some are not used at all. Here we identify the network topology of glucose metabolism and its in vivo operation by quantification of intracellular carbon fluxes from 13C tracer experiments. Specifically, we investigated Agrobacterium tumefaciens, two pseudomonads, Sinorhizobium meliloti, Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Zymomonas mobilis, and Paracoccus versutus, which grow on glucose as the sole carbon source, represent fundamentally different metabolic lifestyles (aerobic, anaerobic, photoheterotrophic, and chemoheterotrophic), and are phylogenetically distinct (firmicutes, gamma-proteobacteria, and alpha-proteobacteria). Compared to those of the model bacteria Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, metabolisms of the investigated species differed significantly in several respects: (i) the Entner-Doudoroff pathway was the almost exclusive catabolic route; (ii) the pentose phosphate pathway exhibited exclusively biosynthetic functions, in many cases also requiring flux through the nonoxidative branch; (iii) all aerobes exhibited fully respiratory metabolism without significant overflow metabolism; and (iv) all aerobes used the pyruvate bypass of the malate dehydrogenase reaction to a significant extent. Exclusively, Pseudomonas fluorescens converted most glucose extracellularly to gluconate and 2-ketogluconate. Overall, the results suggest that metabolic data from model species with extensive industrial and laboratory history are not representative of microbial metabolism, at least not quantitatively.

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