Formation of volutin granules in Corynebacterium glutamicum

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2005 Feb 1;243(1):133-40. doi: 10.1016/j.femsle.2004.11.047.


Volutin granules are intracellular storages of complexed inorganic polyphosphate (poly P). Histochemical staining procedures differentiate between pathogenic corynebacteria such as Corynebacterum diphtheriae (containing volutin) and non-pathogenic species, such as C. glutamicum. Here we report that strains ATCC13032 and MH20-22B of the non-pathogenic C. glutamicum also formed subcellular entities (18-37% of the total cell volume) that had the typical characteristics of volutin granules: (i) volutin staining, (ii) green UV fluorescence when stained with 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole, (iii) electron-dense and rich in phosphorus when determined with transmission electron microscopy and X-ray microanalysis, and (iv) 31P NMR poly P resonances of isolated granules dissolved in EDTA. MgCl2 addition to the growth medium stimulated granule formation but did not effect expression of genes involved in poly P metabolism. Granular volutin fractions from lysed cells contained polyphosphate glucokinase as detected by SDS-PAGE/MALDI-TOF, indicating that this poly P metabolizing enzyme is present also in intact poly P granules. The results suggest that formation of volutin is a more widespread phenomenon than generally accepted.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Corynebacterium glutamicum / genetics
  • Corynebacterium glutamicum / metabolism*
  • Corynebacterium glutamicum / ultrastructure
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Electron Probe Microanalysis
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Inorganic Chemicals / metabolism*
  • Magnesium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phosphorus Isotopes
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism
  • Polyphosphates / metabolism*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Inorganic Chemicals
  • Phosphorus Isotopes
  • Polyphosphates
  • Proteins
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Phosphotransferases
  • polyphosphate-glucose phosphotransferase