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Aerotaxis In Salmonella Typhimurium: Role Of Electron Transport

D J Laszlo, B L Taylor

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Sensory transduction in aerotaxis required electron transport, in contrast to chemotaxis, which is independent of electron transport. Assays for aerotaxis were developed by employing spatial and temporal oxygen gradients imposed independently of respiration. By varying the step increase in oxygen concentration in the temporal assay, the dose-response relationship was obtained for aerotaxis in Salmonella typhimurium. A half-maximal response at 0.4 microM oxygen and inhibition by 5 mM KCN suggested that the "receptor" for aerotaxis is cytochrome o. The response was independent of adenosine triphosphate formation via oxidative phosphorylation but did correlate with changes in membrane potential monitored with the fluorescent cyanine dye diS-C3-(5). Nitrate and fumarate, which are alternative electron acceptors for the respiratory chain in S. typhimurium, inhibited aerotaxis when nitrate reductase and fumarate reductase were induced. These results support the hypothesis that taxis to oxygen, nitrate, and fumarate is mediated by the electron transport system and by changes in the proton motive force. Aerotaxis was normal in Escherichia coli mutants that were defective in the tsr, tar, or trg genes; in S. typhimurium, oxygen did not stimulate methylation of the products of these genes. A cheC mutant which shows an inverse response to chemoattractants also gave an inverse response to oxygen. Therefore, aerotaxis is transduced by a distinct and unidentified signally protein but is focused into the common chemosensory pathway before the step involving the cheC product. When S. typhimurium became anaerobic, the decreased proton motive force from glycolysis supported slow swimming but not tumbling, indicating that a minimum proton motive force was required for tumbling. The bacteria rapidly adapted to the anaerobic condition and resumed tumbling after about 3 min. The adaptation period was much shorter when the bacteria had been previously grown anaerobically.