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Curr Microbiol. 1995 Jan;30(1):55-60.

Carnitine resembles choline in the induction of cholinesterase, acid phosphatase, and phospholipase C and in its action as an osmoprotectant in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Departamento de Biología Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto, Córdoba, Argentina.


The present study demonstrates that under conditions of iso or hyperosmolarity, P. aeruginosa utilized carnitine as the carbon, nitrogen or carbon and nitrogen sources. As occurred in the case of choline, the bacteria synthesized cholinesterase (ChE), acid phosphatase (Ac.Pase) and phospholipase C (PLC) under any of these conditions and in the presence of high or low Pi concentrations. Carnitine acted as an osmoprotectant when the cells were grown in the presence of preferred carbon and nitrogen sources and high NaCl concentrations. Under these conditions the three enzyme activities were not produced. The osmotically stressed bacteria grown under any of the above conditions accumulated betaine. Its presence indicated that carnitine may be metabolized by P. aeruginosa to produce betaine which could account for the induction of the three enzyme activities or its action as an osmoprotectant. The phosphatidylcholine encountered in the host cell membranes allows the bacteria to obtain free choline by the coordinated action of PLC and Ac.Pase. Since the consequence of this action may be cell disruption, the increase of free carnitine in the natural environment of the bacteria is also possible. These two compounds, choline and carnitine, acting in conjunction or separately, may increase the production of PLC and Ac.Pase activities by P. aeruginosa and thus enhance the degradative effect upon the host cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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