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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1998 Dec 15;169(2):309-16.

Lactate causes changes in gonococci including increased lipopolysaccharide synthesis during short-term incubation in media containing glucose.

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School of Biochemistry, University of Birmingham, UK.

Erratum in

  • FEMS Microbiol Lett 1999 Feb 15;171(2):251.


Gonococci (strain BS4(agar)), emerging from lag-phase during 1-1.5 h incubation in a medium containing glucose (28 mM) and either 5 microM or 50 microM sodium lactate, show enhanced capacity for their lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to be sialylated by cytidine 5'-monophospho-N-acetyl neuraminic acid. The sialyltransferase content of the lactate-treated gonococci was not greater than that of control organisms and showed no differences in LPS components. However, the total LPS content of the lactate-treated gonococci was 10-20% higher than that of control organisms, so lactate enhancement may be due to more sialyl receptors becoming available due to an overall stimulation of LPS synthesis. The protein and pentose contents of the lactate-treated gonococci were also higher than those of controls, indicating stimulation of protein synthesis and ribosome production. Electron microscopy showed hair-like external appendages on control but not on lactate-treated gonococci. The above growth conditions are unnatural. However, when concentrations of glucose and lactate were adjusted to values akin to those occurring in vivo (glucose 5 mM alone and with either 1 mM or 10 mM lactate), and gonococcal multiplication occurred during the short incubation period (1-1.5 h), lactate again induced greater contents of LPS, protein and pentose. A high content of LPS, which will contribute to pathogenicity, should be a constant feature of gonococci growing in human urogenital tissues, where lactate is ever present with glucose.

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