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During aerobic growth of Escherichia coli, expression of catabolic enzymes and envelope and periplasmic proteins is regulated by pH. Additional modes of pH regulation were revealed under anaerobiosis. E. coli K-12 strain W3110 was cultured anaerobically in broth medium buffered at pH 5.5 or 8.5 for protein identification on proteomic two-dimensional gels. A total of 32 proteins from anaerobic cultures show pH-dependent expression, and only four of these proteins (DsbA, TnaA, GatY, and HdeA) showed pH regulation in aerated cultures. The levels of 19 proteins were elevated at the high pH; these proteins included metabolic enzymes (DhaKLM, GapA, TnaA, HisC, and HisD), periplasmic proteins (ProX, OppA, DegQ, MalB, and MglB), and stress proteins (DsbA, Tig, and UspA). High-pH induction of the glycolytic enzymes DhaKLM and GapA suggested that there was increased fermentation to acids, which helped neutralize alkalinity. Reporter lac fusion constructs showed base induction of sdaA encoding serine deaminase under anaerobiosis; in addition, the glutamate decarboxylase genes gadA and gadB were induced at the high pH anaerobically but not with aeration. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that there is a connection between the gad system and GabT metabolism of 4-aminobutanoate. On the other hand, 13 other proteins were induced by acid; these proteins included metabolic enzymes (GatY and AckA), periplasmic proteins (TolC, HdeA, and OmpA), and redox enzymes (GuaB, HmpA, and Lpd). The acid induction of NikA (nickel transporter) is of interest because E. coli requires nickel for anaerobic fermentation. The position of the NikA spot coincided with the position of a small unidentified spot whose induction in aerobic cultures was reported previously; thus, NikA appeared to be induced slightly by acid during aeration but showed stronger induction under anaerobic conditions. Overall, anaerobic growth revealed several more pH-regulated proteins; in particular, anaerobiosis enabled induction of several additional catabolic enzymes and sugar transporters at the high pH, at which production of fermentation acids may be advantageous for the cell.


Journal of Bacteriology



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