Energetics underlying the process of long-chain fatty acid transport

Azliyati Azizan, David Sherin, Concetta C. DiRusso, Paul N. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The gram negative bacterium Escherichia coli has evolved a highly specific system for the transport of exogenous long-chain fatty acids (C12- C18) across the cell envelope that requires the outer membrane protein FadL and the inner membrane associated fatty acyl CoA synthetase. The transport of aleate (C(18:1)) across the cell envelop responds to metabolic energy. In order to define the source of metabolic energy which drives this process, oleate transport was measured in wild-type and ATP synthase-defective (Δatp) strains which were (i) subjected to osmotic shock and (ii) starved and energized with glucose or D-lactate in the presence of different metabolic inhibitors. Osmotic shock did not eliminate transport but rather reduced the rate to 33-55% of wild-type levels. These results suggested a periplasmic protein may participate in this process or that osmotic shock disrupts the energized state of the cell which in turn reduces the rate of oleate transport. Transport systems which are osmotically sensitive also require ATP. The process of long-chain fatty acid transport requires ATP generated either by substrate-level or oxidative phosphorylation. Following starvation, the basal rate of transport for wild-type cells was 340.4 pmol/min/mg protein compared to 172.0 pmol/min/mg protein for the Δatp cells. When cells are energized with glucose, the rates of transport were increased and comparable (1242.6 and 1293.8 pmol/min/mg protein, respectively). This was in contrast to cells energized with o-lactate in which only the wild-type cells were responsive. The role of ATP is likely due to the ATP requirement of fatty acyl CoA synthetase for catalytic activity. The process of oleate transport is also influenced by the energized state of the inner membrane. In the presence of carbonyl cyanide-m-chlorophenylhydrazone oleate transport is depressed to 30-50% of wild-type levels in wild-type and Δatp strains under starvation conditions. These results are mirrored in cells energized with glucose and D-lactate, indicating that an energized membrane is required for optimal levels of oleate transport. These data support the hypothesis that the fatty acid transport system of E. coli responds to both intracellular pools of ATP and an energized membrane for maximal proficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 15 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell envelope
  • Cellular energetics
  • Escherichia coli
  • Long-chain fatty acid transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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