Regulation of membrane lipid synthesis in Escherichia coli. Accumulation of free fatty acids of abnormal length during inhibition of phospholipid synthesis

J. E. Cronan, L. J. Weisberg, R. G. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Glycerol starvation of an Escherichia coli glycerol auxotroph results in a specific inhibition of membrane phospholipid synthesis. Mindich ((1972) J. Bacteriol. 110, 96-102) observed only a trace accumulation of free fatty acid following glycerol deprivation. We have repeated these experiments using glycerol auxotrophs which also possess a lesion in β oxidation. This defect was introduced in order to control fatty acid degradation. In contrast to the previous results, we find free fatty acid does accumulate during glycerol starvation. Similar results were found using β oxidation defective (fadE-) derivatives of both gpsA and plsB glycerol auxotrophs. Upon glycerol starvation of a plsB- fadE- strain, phospholipid synthesis is 90% inhibited. Following a lag of 20 to 40 min, free fatty acid synthesis begins and proceeds at a rate that steadily increases until the rate of fatty acid synthesis is equal to that found in glycerol supplemented cultures. The accumulation of free fatty acid is the result of de novo synthesis. The average chain length of the fatty acid in the unesterified fraction is abnormally long. Two 20 carbon fatty acids, cis 13 eicosenoic acid and arachidic acid, are found in this fraction. Furthermore, a greatly increased level of stearic acid and a small amount of a C 22 (behenic) acid are found in the free fatty acid fraction. These data indicate that acyl transfer into phospholipid is a major determinant of phospholipid acyl moiety chain length. Other experiments have shown that the free fatty acid fraction in glycerol starved cells is metabolically active. This fraction turns over despite the defective β oxidation system. Restoration of glycerol to starved cells allows the incorporation of the unesterified fatty acids into phospholipid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5835-5840
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume250
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1975
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Regulation of membrane lipid synthesis in Escherichia coli. Accumulation of free fatty acids of abnormal length during inhibition of phospholipid synthesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this