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J Bacteriol. 1995 Jul;177(14):4097-104.

Comparative analysis of extreme acid survival in Salmonella typhimurium, Shigella flexneri, and Escherichia coli.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Mobile 36688, USA.


Several members of the family Enterobacteriaceae were examined for differences in extreme acid survival strategies. A surprising degree of variety was found between three related genera. The minimum growth pH of Salmonella typhimurium was shown to be significantly lower (pH 4.0) than that of either Escherichia coli (pH 4.4) or Shigella flexneri (pH 4.8), yet E. coli and S. flexneri both survive exposure to lower pH levels (2 to 2.5) than S. typhimurium (pH 3.0) in complex medium. S. typhimurium and E. coli but not S. flexneri expressed low-pH-inducible log-phase and stationary-phase acid tolerance response (ATR) systems that function in minimal or complex medium to protect cells to pH 3.0. All of the organisms also expressed a pH-independent general stress resistance system that contributed to acid survival during stationary phase. E. coli and S. flexneri possessed several acid survival systems (termed acid resistance [AR]) that were not demonstrable in S. typhimurium. These additional AR systems protected cells to pH 2.5 and below but required supplementation of minimal medium for either induction or function. One acid-inducible AR system required oxidative growth in complex medium for expression but successfully protected cells to pH 2.5 in unsupplemented minimal medium, while two other AR systems important for fermentatively grown cells required the addition of either glutamate or arginine during pH 2.5 acid challenge. The arginine AR system was only observed in E. coli and required stationary-phase induction in acidified complex medium. The product of the adi locus, arginine decarboxylase, was responsible for arginine-based acid survival.

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