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Eur J Biochem. 1997 Jul 15;247(2):572-80.

Efflux of compatible solutes in Corynebacterium glutamicum mediated by osmoregulated channel activity.

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Institut für Biotechnologie 1, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany.


Bacteria respond to hypoosmotic stress by releasing low-molecular-mass solutes in order to maintain constant turgor pressure. We have studied the function of osmoregulated channel(s) in Corynebacterium glutamicum, which are responsible for efflux of various solutes upon sudden decrease in osmotic pressure. The channels preferentially mediated efflux of compatible solutes such as glycine betaine and proline. The release of molecules of similar size, e.g. glutamate or lysine, was restricted, ATP was completely retained even after severe osmotic shock. The cells maintained high cytoplasmic K+ and Na+ concentrations under hypoosmotic shock. Several results suggest that the solute efflux is mediated by a channel and not by a carrier, e.g. by reversal of the glycine betaine uptake systems of C. glutamicum: the release of glycine betaine and proline was extremely fast reaching an efflux rate of 6000 micromol x min(-1) x g dm(-1) or higher; the efflux was not significantly influenced by addition of external transport substrate, e.g. glycine betaine; in spite of an extremely high chemical gradient, no significant efflux under isoosmolar conditions was observed; efflux of solutes was unchanged after full uncoupling of membrane energetics by carbonylcyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP). These results indicate the presence of an osmoregulated channel in C. glutamicum similar to the mechanosensitive channel(s) of Escherichia coli. The activity of the channel did not depend on the growth conditions, but we observed a tight regulation on the level of activity, i.e. the mechanosensitive channel behaved as a perfect osmometer. By monitoring release of glycine betaine under slow and continuous decrease of the external osmolality, we observed continous efflux whithout a stepwise release of solutes. This resulted in a significant steady-state decrease of the membrane potential.

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