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Microbiology. 2009 Feb;155(Pt 2):347-58. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.023614-0.

Roles of maltodextrin and glycogen phosphorylases in maltose utilization and glycogen metabolism in Corynebacterium glutamicum.

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Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Ulm, D-89069 Ulm, Germany.


Corynebacterium glutamicum transiently accumulates large amounts of glycogen, when cultivated on glucose and other sugars as a source of carbon and energy. Apart from the debranching enzyme GlgX, which is required for the formation of maltodextrins from glycogen, alpha-glucan phosphorylases were assumed to be involved in glycogen degradation, forming alpha-glucose 1-phosphate from glycogen and from maltodextrins. We show here that C. glutamicum in fact possesses two alpha-glucan phosphorylases, which act as a glycogen phosphorylase (GlgP) and as a maltodextrin phosphorylase (MalP). By chromosomal inactivation and subsequent analysis of the mutant, cg1479 was identified as the malP gene. The deletion mutant C. glutamicum DeltamalP completely lacked MalP activity and showed reduced intracellular glycogen degradation, confirming the proposed pathway for glycogen degradation in C. glutamicum via GlgP, GlgX and MalP. Surprisingly, the DeltamalP mutant showed impaired growth, reduced viability and altered cell morphology on maltose and accumulated much higher concentrations of glycogen and maltodextrins than the wild-type during growth on this substrate, suggesting an additional role of MalP in maltose metabolism of C. glutamicum. Further assessment of enzyme activities revealed the presence of 4-alpha-glucanotransferase (MalQ), glucokinase (Glk) and alpha-phosphoglucomutase (alpha-Pgm), and the absence of maltose hydrolase, maltose phosphorylase and beta-Pgm, all three known to be involved in maltose utilization by Gram-positive bacteria. Based on these findings, we conclude that C. glutamicum metabolizes maltose via a pathway involving maltodextrin and glucose formation by MalQ, glucose phosphorylation by Glk and maltodextrin degradation via the reactions of MalP and alpha-Pgm, a pathway hitherto known to be present in Gram-negative rather than in Gram-positive bacteria.

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