GDP-mannose dehydrogenase (GMD) is a key regulatory enzyme and the committal step in alginate biosynthesis. In this study, a metabolic approach has been used to investigate GMD activity in non-mucoid and isogenically related mucoid strains of . Intracellular concentrations of GDP-mannose and GDP-mannuronate have been quantified using HPLC separation methods, and their concentrations have been related to GMD activity and total alginate production. In all strains of tested, GDP-mannose accumulated particularly during the exponential phase of growth in batch culture; the GDP-mannose concentrations in mucoid strains were significantly lower compared with isogenic non-mucoid strains. The product of GMD activity, GDP-mannuronate, was detectable only in mucoid strains, albeit at low but relatively constant levels irrespective of growth phase. The GDP-mannose concentrations in mucoid strains were always significantly greater than those of GDP-mannuronate, indicating that GMD is a rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of alginate. Significant GMD activity and extracellular alginate production were detected only in mucoid strains. The metabolic data reported here, together with previous genetic studies, provide strong evidence that GMD is the key regulatory enzyme controlling alginate biosynthesis in mucoid strains of .


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