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J Biotechnol. 1996 Feb 28;45(2):137-48.

Formation and cell-medium partitioning of autoinhibitory free fatty acids and cyclodextrin's effect in the cultivation of Bordetella pertussis.

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Department of Chemical Engineering and the Biotechnology Center, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA.


Palmitic, palmitoleic and stearic acids were found in the extracted cellular lipids of virulent Bordetella pertussis as unesterified acids in confirmation of earlier taxonomic analyses. The same free fatty acids (FFAs) were found in the spent culture supernatant in concentrations higher than in the uninoculated medium, indicating that they are released into the extracellular medium. These long-chain fatty acids are known to inhibit the growth of B. pertussis at concentrations as low as 1 ppm. Measurement of palmitate cell-medium partitioning demonstrated a strong tendency of FFAs for cellular adsorption. Inhibition kinetics indicated that the cell-bound FFA was responsible for inhibition and that the specific cellular FFA concentrations actually found during growth were similar to those determined to be inhibitory. Autoinhibition by these endogenous FFAs provides an explanation of the low maximum cell concentrations currently attainable in liquid media. Addition of soluble dimethyl-beta-cyclodextrin (MebetaCD) to FFA-inhibited cultures resulted in a rapid reversal of the inhibition. A corresponding shift in the distribution of FFAs from the cells to the extracellular medium demonstrated that MebetaCD sequesters FFAs. Although MebetaCD did not increase final cell concentrations and even had an adverse effect on growth at concentrations above 1 g l-1, it did (at 1 g l-1 extend the initial period of high growth rate leading to shorter cultivation times.

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