Transport and catabolism of the sialic acids N-glycolylneuraminic acid and 3-keto-3-deoxy-D-glycero-D-galactonononic acid by Escherichia coli K-12

Adam P Hopkins, Judith A Hawkhead, Gavin H Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Escherichia coli can transport and catabolize the common sialic acid, N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac), as a sole source of carbon and nitrogen, which is an important mucus-derived carbon source in the mammalian gut. Herein we demonstrate that E. coli can also grow efficiently on the related sialic acids, N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) and 3-keto-3-deoxy-D-glycero-D-galactonononic acid (KDN), which are transported via the sialic acid transporter NanT and catabolized using the sialic acid aldolase NanA. Catabolism of Neu5Gc uses the same pathway as Neu5Ac, likely producing glycolate instead and acetate during its breakdown and catabolism of KDN requires NanA activity, while other components of the Neu5Ac catabolism pathway are non-essential. We also demonstrate that these two sialic acids can support growth of an E. coli ∆nanT strain expressing sialic acid transporters from two bacterial pathogens, namely the tripartite ATP-independent periplasmic transporter SiaPQM from Haemophilus influenzae and the sodium solute symport transporter STM1128 from Salmonella enterica ssp. Typhimurium, suggesting that the ability to use Neu5Gc and KDN in addition to Neu5Ac is present in a number of human pathogens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalFEMS microbiology letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. All rights reserved.

Cite this