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Acetate assimilation and the synthesis of alanine, aspartate and glutamate inMethanobacterium thermoautotrophicum


Cultures of the autotrophic bacteriumMethanobacterium thermoautotrophicum were shown to assimilate acetate when grown on CO2 and H2 in the presence of acetate. At 1 mM acetate 10% of the cell carbon came from acetate, the rest from CO2. At higher concentrations the percentage increased to reach a maximum of 65%at acetate concentrations higher than 20 mM. The data suggest that acetate may be an important carbon source under physiological conditions.

The incorporation of acetate into alanine, aspartate and glutamate was studied in more detail. The cells were grown on CO2 and H2 in the presence of 1 mM U-14C-acetate. The three amino acids were isolated from the labelled cells by a simplified procedure. Alanine, aspartate and glutamate were found to have the same specific radioactivity. Degradation studies showed that C1 of alanine C1 and C4 of aspartate, and C1 and C5 of glutamate were exclusively derived from CO2, whereas C2 and C3 alamine and aspartate, and C3 and C4 of glutamate were partially derived from acetate. These findings and the presence of pyruvate synthase, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase and α-ketoglutarate synthase inM. thermoautotrophicum indicate that CO2 is assimilated into the three amino acids via acetyl CoA carboxylation to pyruvate, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylation to oxaloacetate, and succinyl CoA carboxylation to α-ketoglutarate.

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Fuchs, G., Stupperich, E. & Thauer, R.K. Acetate assimilation and the synthesis of alanine, aspartate and glutamate inMethanobacterium thermoautotrophicum . Arch. Microbiol. 117, 61–66 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00689352

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Key words

  • Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum
  • Acetate assimilation
  • Amino acid synthesis
  • Pyruvate synthesis
  • α-Ketoglutarate synthesis
  • Glutamate synthesis
  • Autotrophic CO2 fixation