Gail P. Ferguson

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Methylglyoxal is a toxic electrophile. In Escherichia coli cells, the principal route of methylglyoxal production is from dihydroxyacetone phosphate by the action of methylglyoxal synthase. The toxicity of methylglyoxal is believed to be due to its ability to interact with the nucleophilic centres of macromolecules such as DNA. Bacteria possess an array of(More)
The production of MG (methylglyoxal) in bacterial cells must be maintained in balance with the capacity for detoxification and protection against this electrophile. Excessive production of MG leads to cell death. Survival of exposure to MG is best understood in the Gram-negative bacteria. The major mechanism of protection is the spontaneous reaction of MG(More)
Sinorhizobium meliloti differentiates into persisting, nitrogen-fixing bacteroids within root nodules of the legume Medicago truncatula. Nodule-specific cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides (NCR AMPs) and the bacterial BacA protein are essential for bacteroid development. However, the bacterial factors central to the NCR AMP response and the in planta role(More)
The glyoxalase I gene (gloA) of Escherichia coli has been cloned and used to create a null mutant. Cells overexpressing glyoxalase I exhibit enhanced tolerance of methylglyoxal (MG) and exhibit elevated rates of detoxification, although the increase is not stoichiometric with the change in enzyme activity. Potassium efflux via KefB is also enhanced in the(More)
Escherichia coli possesses two glutathione-gated potassium channels, KefB and KefC, that are activated by glutathione-S-conjugates formed with methylglyoxal. We demonstrate that activation of the channels leads to cytoplasmic acidification and that this protects cells during electrophilic attack. Further, we demonstrate that mutants lacking the channels can(More)
We study the migration of chemotactic wild-type Escherichia coli populations in semisolid (soft) agar in the concentration range C = 0.15-0.5% (w/v). For C≲0.35%, expanding bacterial colonies display characteristic chemotactic rings. At C = 0.35%, however, bacteria migrate as broad circular bands rather than sharp rings. These are growth/diffusion waves(More)
Sinorhizobium meliloti, a legume symbiont and Brucella abortus, a phylogenetically related mammalian pathogen, both require their BacA proteins to establish chronic intracellular infections in their respective hosts. The lipid A molecules of S. meliloti and B. abortus are unusually modified with a very-long-chain fatty acid (VLCFA; C > or = 28) and we(More)
The role of the tripeptide glutathione in the growth and survival of Escherichia coli cells has been investigated. Glutathione-deficient mutants leak potassium and have a reduced cytoplasmic pH. These mutants are more sensitive to methylglyoxal than the parent strain, indicating that in the absence of glutathione-dependent detoxification, acidification of(More)
Sinorhizobium meliloti, a legume symbiont, and Brucella abortus, a phylogenetically related mammalian pathogen, both require the bacterial-encoded BacA protein to establish chronic intracellular infections in their respective hosts. We found that the bacterial BacA proteins share sequence similarity with a family of eukaryotic peroxisomal-membrane proteins,(More)
The mechanisms by which Escherichia coli cells survive exposure to the toxic electrophile N-ethylmaleimide (NEM) have been investigated. Stationary-phase E. coli cells were more resistant to NEM than exponential-phase cells. The KefB and KefC systems were found to play an important role in protecting both exponential- and stationary-phase cells against NEM.(More)