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J Bacteriol. 2010 May;192(9):2445-58. doi: 10.1128/JB.01618-09. Epub 2010 Mar 5.

Physiological and transcriptional response of Lactobacillus casei ATCC 334 to acid stress.

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Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences, Utah State University, 8700 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-8700, USA.


This study investigated features of the acid tolerance response (ATR) in Lactobacillus casei ATCC 334. To optimize ATR induction, cells were acid adapted for 10 or 20 min at different pH values (range, 3.0 to 5.0) and then acid challenged at pH 2.0. Adaptation over a broad range of pHs improved acid tolerance, but the highest survival was noted in cells acid adapted for 10 or 20 min at pH 4.5. Analysis of cytoplasmic membrane fatty acids (CMFAs) in acid-adapted cells showed that they had significantly (P < 0.05) higher total percentages of saturated and cyclopropane fatty acids than did control cells. Specifically, large increases in the percentages of C(14:0), C(16:1n(9)), C(16:0), and C(19:0(11c)) were noted in the CMFAs of acid-adapted and acid-adapted, acid-challenged cells, while C(18:1n(9)) and C(18:1n(11)) showed the greatest decrease. Comparison of the transcriptome from control cells (grown at pH 6.0) against that from cells acid adapted for 20 min at pH 4.5 indicated that acid adaption invoked a stringent-type response that was accompanied by other functions which likely helped these cells resist acid damage, including malolactic fermentation and intracellular accumulation of His. Validation of microarray data was provided by experiments that showed that L. casei survival at pH 2.5 was improved at least 100-fold by chemical induction of the stringent response or by the addition of 30 mM malate or 30 mM histidine to the acid challenge medium. To our knowledge, this is the first report that intracellular histidine accumulation may be involved in bacterial acid resistance.

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