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Microbiol Res. 2006;161(1):65-74. Epub 2005 Aug 24.

Acid response of exponentially growing Escherichia coli K-12.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Vilnius University, Vilnius LT-03100, Lithuania.


Induction of acid tolerance response (ATR) of exponential-phase Escherichia coli K-12 cells grown and adapted at different conditions was examined. The highest level of protection against pH 2.5 challenges was obtained after adaptation at pH 4.5-4.9 for 60 min. To study the genetic systems, which could be involved in the development of log-phase ATR, we investigated the acid response of E. coli acid resistance (AR) mutants. The activity of the glutamate-dependent system was observed in exponential cells grown at pH 7.0 and acid adapted at pH 4.5 in minimal medium. Importantly, log-phase cells exhibited significant AR when grown in minimal medium pH 7.0 and challenged at pH 2.5 for 2 h without adaptation. This AR required the glutamate-dependent AR system. Acid protection was largely dependent on RpoS in unadapted and adapted cells grown in minimal medium. RpoS-dependent oxidative, glutamate and arginine-dependent decarboxylase AR systems were not involved in triggering log-phase ATR in cells grown in rich medium. Cells adapted at pH 4.5 in rich medium showed a higher proton accumulation rate than unadapted cells as determined by proton flux assay. It is clear from our study that highly efficient mechanisms of protection are induced, operate and play the main role during log-phase ATR.

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