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Effect of Iron and Salt on Prodigiosin Synthesis in Serratia marcescens

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  • Physiology And Metabolism


Serratia marcescens wild-types ATCC 264 and Nima grew but did not synthesize prodigiosin in a glycerol-alanine medium containing 10 ng of Fe per ml. Wild-type 264 required the addition of 0.2 μg of Fe per ml for maximal growth and prodigiosin synthesis; Nima required 0.5 μg of Fe per ml. Three percent, but not 0.1%, sea salts inhibited prodigiosin synthesis in a complex medium containing up to 10 μg of Fe per ml. NaCl was the inhibitory sea salt component. The inhibition was not specific for NaCl; equimolar concentrations of Na2SO4, KCl, and K2SO4 also inhibited prodigiosin synthesis. Experiments with strains 264 and Nima and with mutant WF which cannot synthesize 4-methoxy-2-2′-bipyrrole-5-carboxyaldehyde (MBC), the bipyrrole moiety of prodigiosin, and with mutant 9-3-3 which cannot synthesize the monopyrrole moiety 2-methyl-3-amylpyrrole (MAP) showed that both MBC synthesis and the reaction condensing MAP and MBC to form prodigiosin were relatively more sensitive to NaCl inhibition than the MAP-synthesizing step. The capacity of whole cells to condense MAP and MBC was present, but inactive, in cells grown in NaCl; removal of the NaCl from non-proliferating salt-grown cells restored the activity. Other evidence suggests the existence of a common precursor to the MAP- and MBC-synthesizing pathways.

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