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J Bacteriol. 1997 Jul;179(14):4538-44.

Iron-regulated excretion of alpha-keto acids by Salmonella typhimurium.

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Robert Koch Institute, Wernigerode Branch, Germany.


Excretion of alpha-keto acids by clinical isolates and laboratory strains of Salmonella typhimurium was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography analysis of culture supernatants. The levels of excretion increased markedly with increasing iron stress imposed by the presence of alpha,alpha'-dipyridyl or conalbumin in the medium. The major product was pyruvic acid, but significant concentrations of alpha-ketoglutaric acid, alpha-ketoisovaleric acid, and alpha-ketoisocaproic acid were also observed. Maximal excretion occurred at iron stress levels that initially inhibited bacterial growth; the concentration of alpha,alpha'-dipyridyl at which this was observed differed between strains depending on their ability to secrete and utilize siderophores, suggesting that the intracellular iron status was important in determining alpha-keto acid excretion. However, prolonged incubation of the siderophore-deficient S. typhimurium strain enb-7 under conditions of high iron stress resulted in significant delayed bacterial growth, promoted by tonB-dependent uptake of iron complexed with the high accumulated levels of pyruvic acid and other alpha-keto acids. Strain RB181, a fur derivative of enb-7, excreted massive amounts of alpha-keto acids into the culture medium even in the absence of any iron chelators (the concentration of pyruvic acid, for example, was >25 mM). Moreover, RB181 was able to grow and excrete alpha-keto acids in the presence of alpha,alpha'-dipyridyl at concentrations threefold greater than that which inhibited the growth of enb-7.

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