Journal of bacteriology

Identification, source, and metabolism of N-ethylglutamate in Escherichia coli.

PMID 20709899


N-Ethylglutamate (NEG) was detected in Escherichia coli BL21 cells grown on LB broth, and it was found to occur at a concentration of ∼4 mM in these cells under these conditions. The same cells grown on M9 glucose medium contained no detectable amount of NEG. Analysis of the LB broth showed the presence of NEG, a compound never before reported as a natural product. Isotope dilution analysis showed that it occurred at a concentration of 160 μM in LB broth. Analyses of yeast extract and tryptone, the organic components of LB broth, both showed the presence NEG. It was demonstrated that NEG can be generated during the autolysis of the yeast used in the preparation of the yeast extract. Growth of these E. coli cells in LB broth prepared in deuterated water showed no incorporation of deuterium into NEG, demonstrating that E. coli cells did not generate the NEG. Cell growth rates were not affected by the addition of 5 mM NEG to either LB or M9 glucose medium. l-[ethyl-(2)H(4)]NEG was found to be readily incorporated into the cells and metabolized by the cells. From these results, it was concluded that all of the NEG present in the cells was taken up from the medium. NEG could serve as the sole nitrogen source for E. coli when grown on M9 glucose medium in the presence of glucose but could not serve as the sole carbon source on M9 medium in the absence of glucose.