SUMMARY: Proline accumulation in is mediated by three proline porters. Proline catabolism is effected by proline porter I (PPI) and proline/Δ-pyrroline carboxylate dehydrogenase. Proline did not accumulate cytoplasmically when was subjected to osmotic stress in minimal salts medium. Although PPI is induced when proline is provided as carbon or nitrogen source, its activity decreased following growth of the bacteria in minimal salts medium of high osmotic strength. Proline dehydrogenase was induced by proline in low or high osmotic strength media. Proline porter II (PPII) was both activated and induced in osmotically stressed bacteria, though the dependencies of the two responses on medium osmolarity differed. Osmotic downshift during the transport measurement decreased the uptake of proline, serine and glutamine by bacteria cultured in media of high osmotic strength. Thus, while osmotic upshift caused specific activation of PPII, osmotic downshift caused a non-specific reduction in amino acid uptake. Glycine betaine inhibited the uptake of [C]proline via PPII and PPIII but not via PPI. The dependence of that inhibition on glycine betaine concentration was similar when PPII was uninduced, induced or activated by osmotic stress, or induced by amino acid limited growth. Thus PPII and PPIII, not PPI, contribute to the mechanism of osmoprotection by proline and glycine betaine. The tendency for exogenous proline to accumulate in the cytoplasm of bacteria exposed to osmotic stress would, however, be countered by increased proline catabolism.


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