A recombinant strain of Escherichia coli MV1184, which contains plasmid-borne genes encoding the phosphate-specific transport (Pst) system and polyphosphate (polyP) kinase, accumulated high levels of Pi and released polyP into the medium. PolyP could be separated from the culture supernatant by DEAE-Toyopearl 650M chromatography and identified by high-resolution 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Once E. coli recombinants accumulated high levels of polyP, they released polyP concomitantly with Pi uptake. PolyP release did not accompany the decrease in the cell density, indicating that it is not simply a result of cell lysis. PolyP release ceased when Pi became depleted in the medium and resumed upon addition of Pi to the medium. When Pi uptake was inhibited by 0.1 mM carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP), no polyP release was observed. Furthermore, neither Pi uptake nor polyP release occurred when cells were incubated at 4 degrees C. These findings suggest that the occurrence of polyP release is a possible mechanism that limits a further increase in the cellular polyP concentration in E. coli recombinants. High-resolution 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy also detected a surface pool of polyP in intact cells of the E. coli recombinant. The polyP resonance increased when cells were treated with EDTA and broadened upon the addition of a shift reagent, praseodymium. Although the mechanism of surface polyP accumulation is unclear, surface polyP seems to serve as the source for polyP release
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