The effect of reducing the membrane potential on glutamine transport in cells of Escherichia coli has been investigated. Addition of valinomycin to tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid-treated E. coli cells in the presence of 20 mM exogenous potassium reduced the membrane potential, as measured by the uptake of the lipophilic cation triphenylmethylphosphonium, and caused a complete inhibition of glutamine transport. Valinomycin plus potassium also caused a rapid decrease in the intracellular levels of ATP of normal E. coli cells, but had little if any effect on the ATP levels of two mutants of E. coli carrying lesions in the energy-transducing ATP complex (unc mutants). Yet both the membrane potential and the capacity to transport glutamine were depressed in the unc mutants by valinomycin and potassium. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that both ATP and a membrane potential are essential to the active transport of glutamine by E. coli cells
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