The response of to the electrophile -ethylmaleimide (NEM) has been investigated. Treatment with low levels of NEM (20-30 µM) led to transient growth inhibition followed by recovery of normal growth. Stationary phase cells acquired resistance to NEM; one component of this tolerance was a more rapid metabolism of NEM. In exponential phase cells, the period of growth inhibition was associated with detoxification of NEM. Detoxification was biphasic and cells lost the ability to form colonies on minimal agar plates during the first phase of detoxification. Full viability was retained on MacConkey agar. Peptones are the active components in MacConkey medium. Addition of peptones to minimal agar restored colony-forming ability, but each peptone source had a different efficiency. These data suggest that a deficiency in the ability to assimilate nitrogen is a consequence of NEM treatment.


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