Sialic acid utilization by the soil bacterium Corynebacterium glutamicum

Nadine Gruteser, Kay Marin, Reinhard Krämer, Gavin H Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to use the sialic acid, N-acetylneuraminic acid, Neu5Ac, as a nutrient has been characterized in a number of bacteria, most of which are human pathogens that encounter this molecule because of its presence on mucosal surfaces. The soil bacterium Corynebacterium glutamicum also has a full complement of genes for sialic acid catabolism, and we demonstrate that it can use Neu5Ac as a sole source of carbon and energy and isolate mutants with a much reduced growth lag on Neu5Ac. Disruption of the cg2937 gene, encoding a component of a predicted sialic acid-specific ABC transporter, results in a complete loss of growth of C. glutamicum on Neu5Ac and also a complete loss of [(14)C]-Neu5Ac uptake into cells. Uptake of [(14)C]-Neu5Ac is induced by pregrowth on Neu5Ac, but the additional presence of glucose prevents this induction. The demonstration that a member of the Actinobacteria can transport and catabolize Neu5Ac efficiently suggests that sialic acid metabolism has a physiological role in the soil environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
JournalFEMS microbiology letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Corynebacterium glutamicum
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Multigene Family
  • Biological Transport
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid
  • Mutation
  • Gene Order

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