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J Bacteriol. 1977 Nov;132(2):526-31.

Regulation of fatty acid synthesis during the cessation of phospholipid biosynthesis in Escherichia coli.


In 1975, Cronan et al. (J. Biol. Chem. 250:5835-5840) reported that free fatty acids accumulated during glycerol starvation of an Escherichia coli glycerol auxotroph. On the basis of labeling experiments showing significant incorporation of [14C]acetate into the fatty acid fraction of glycerol-starved cells, these authors concluded that fatty acid synthesis proceeded normally in the absence of phospholipid synthesis. Since these findings might have been due to an increase in the intracellular specific activity of the [1-14C]acetyl coenzyme A pool of the glycerol-starved cells, we reexamined the effect of glycerol starvation on fatty acid synthesis. We found that (i) the incorporation of 3H2O and/or [2,3-14C]succinate into the fatty acid fraction of glycerol auxotrophs is severely reduced during starvation, (ii) the incorporation of [1-14C]acetate into the lipid fraction of an acetate-requiring glycerol auxotroph is inhibited by 95% during glycerol starvation, and (iii) the accumulation of fatty acids, as measured by microtitration, in glycerol-starved cells is less than 10% that of glycerol-supplemented cells. These results indicate that fatty acid synthesis is inhibited in the absence of phospholipid synthesis of E. coli.

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