Osmoprotection of Escherichia call by peptone is mediated by the uptake and accumulation of free proline but not of proline-containing peptides

M R Amezaga, I R Booth

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The effect of meat peptone type I (Sigma) on the growth of Escherichia coli cells under hyperosmotic stress has been investigated. Peptone is a complex mixture of peptides with a small content of free amino acids, which resembles nutrients found in natural environments. Our data showed that peptone enhances the growth off. coli cells in high-osmolarity medium to Levels higher than those achieved with the main compatible solute In bacteria, glycine betaine. The mechanism of osmoprotection by peptone comprises the uptake and accumulation of the compatible solute, proline. The main role of the peptides contained in peptone is the provision of nutrients rather than the intracellular accumulation of osmolytes. In contrast to Listeria monocytogenes (M. R. Amezaga, I. Davidson, D. McLaggan, A. Verheul, T. Abee, and I. R. Booth, Microbiology 141:41-19, 1995), E. coli does not accumulate exogenous peptides for osmoprotection and peptides containing proline do not lead to the accumulation of proline as a compatible solute. In late-logarithmic-phase cultures of E. coli growing at high osmolarity plus peptone, proline becomes the limiting factor for growth, and the intracellular pools of proline are not maintained. This is a consequence of the low concentration of free proline in peptone, the catabolism of proline by E. coli, and the inability of E. coli to utilize proline-containing peptides as a source of compatible solutes. Our data highlight the role that natural components in food such as peptides play in undermining food preservation regimes, such as high osmolarity, and also that the specific mechanisms of osmoprotection by these compounds differ according to the organism,

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5272-5278
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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