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Biochemistry. 2005 Oct 4;44(39):13214-23.

Interaction of silver(I) ions with the respiratory chain of Escherichia coli: an electrochemical and scanning electrochemical microscopy study of the antimicrobial mechanism of micromolar Ag+.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A5300, Austin, Texas 78712-0165, USA.


Electrochemical techniques were used to study the behavior of Escherichia coli on the addition of <or=10 microM AgNO(3). Respiration in the presence of glucose was measured using a Clark ultramicroelectrode to determine the oxygen concentration as a function of time. The rate of respiration increased initially upon the addition of silver(I) because of the uncoupling of the respiratory chain, followed by cessation of respiration. The toxicity of 1 microM AgNO(3), as determined by the time until respiration ceased, increased in the absence of glucose and in the presence of K(+). The uptake of 1 microM Ag(+), measured from the stripping peak height of Ag electrodeposited on a 25 microm Pt ultramicroelectrode, showed a fastest uptake in the presence of glucose, although glucose was not required for uptake. Efflux of Ag(+) from cells was also detected in the presence of glucose. Scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) was used to follow the uptake of 1 microM Ag(+) by living and dead E. coli immobilized on a glass slide coated with poly-l-lysine. Ferricyanide was used as an alternative electron acceptor to oxygen to probe the site of inhibition of Ag(+) in the respiratory chain.

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