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J Bacteriol. 1993 Feb;175(4):1087-94.

Glycerol kinase of Escherichia coli is activated by interaction with the glycerol facilitator.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Germany.


Glycerol transport is commonly cited as the only example of facilitated diffusion across the Escherichia coli cytoplasmic membrane. Two proteins, the glycerol facilitator and glycerol kinase, are involved in the entry of external glycerol into cellular metabolism. The glycerol facilitator is thought to act as a carrier or to form a selective pore in the cytoplasmic membrane, whereas the kinase traps the glycerol inside the cell as sn-glycerol-3-phosphate. We found that the kinetics of glycerol uptake in a facilitator-minus strain are significantly different from the kinetics of glycerol uptake in the wild type. Free glycerol was not observed inside wild-type cells transporting glycerol, and diffusion of glycerol across the cytoplasmic membrane was not the rate-limiting step for phosphorylation in facilitator-minus mutants. Therefore, the kinetics of glycerol phosphorylation are different, depending on the presence or absence of the facilitator protein. We conclude that there is an interaction between the glycerol facilitator protein and glycerol kinase that stimulates kinase activity, analogous to the hexokinase- and glycerol kinase-porin interactions in mitochondria.

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