The existence of active transport systems (permeases) operating on amino acids in the photoautotrophic cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain 6803 was demonstrated by following the initial rates of uptake with 14C-labeled amino acids, measuring the intracellular pools of amino acids, and isolating mutants resistant to toxic amino acids. One class of mutants (Pfa1) corresponds to a regulatory defect in the biosynthesis of the aromatic amino acids, but two other classes (Can1 and Aza1) are defective in amino acid transport. The Can1 mutants are defective in the active transport of three basic amino acids (arginine, histidine, and lysine) and in one of two transport systems operating on glutamine. The Aza1 mutants are not affected in the transport of the basic amino acids but have lost the capacity to transport all other amino acids except glutamate. The latter amino acid is probably transported by a third permease which could be identical to the Can1-independent transport operating on glutamine. Thus, genetic evidence suggests that strain 6803 has only a small number of amino acid transport systems with fairly broad specificity and that, with the exception of glutamine, each amino acid is accumulated by only one major transport system. Compared with heterotrophic bacteria such as Escherichia coli, these permeases are rather inefficient in terms of affinity (apparent Km ranging from 6 to 60 microM) and of Vmax
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