Ornithine metabolism was studied in two strains of the trench fever rickettsia Rochalimaea quintana, Fuller and Guadalupe, and in the vole agent, a strain of Rochalimaea but not necessarily of Rochalimaea quintana. The metabolic activity of intact cells and cell-free extracts was measured by monitoring the evolution of 14CO2 from [1-14C]ornithine. Low levels of activity were obtained with all three strains, but requirements for the demonstration of this activity differed. With the cells of the Fuller and Guadalupe strains, the decarboxylation of ornithine was almost completely dependent on added pyruvate or succinate, presumably as sources of energy for transport. This enhancement was not prevented by the presence of chloramphenicol. The activity of the vole agent, on the other hand, required the complete medium. This activity was prevented by chloramphenicol added at the same time as the medium but not by chloramphenicol added after 1 h of incubation. In cell-free extracts, the demonstration of ornithine decarboxylase activity in the vole agent required prior induction with medium containing ornithine, whereas in the other two strains, the activity was constitutive. The activities of the extracts of the Fuller strain and the vole agent differed also in pH optimum, which was somewhat lower for the vole agent, and in the added pyridoxal phosphate requirement, which was greater for the Fuller strain. Comparable experiments with Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia prowazekii failed to reveal evidence of ornithine metabolism
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