Osmoprotection of Escherichia coli by ectoine: uptake and accumulation characteristics

J Bacteriol. 1992 Aug;174(15):5027-35. doi: 10.1128/jb.174.15.5027-5035.1992.


Ectoine (1,4,5,6-tetrahydro-2-methyl-4-pyrimidinecarboxylic acid) is a cyclic amino acid, identified as a compatible solute in moderately halophilic bacteria. Exogenously provided ectoine was found to stimulate growth of Escherichia coli in media of inhibitory osmotic strength. The stimulation was independent of any specific solute, electrolyte or nonelectrolyte. It is accumulated in E. coli cells proportionally to the osmotic strength of the medium, and it is not metabolized. Its osmoprotective ability was as potent as that of glycine betaine. The ProP and ProU systems are both involved in ectoine uptake and accumulation in E. coli. ProP being the main system for ectoine transport. The intracellular ectoine pool is regulated by both influx and efflux systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Diamino / pharmacokinetics*
  • Amino Acids, Diamino / pharmacology
  • Biological Transport
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Proline / genetics
  • Proline / metabolism


  • Amino Acids, Diamino
  • Carrier Proteins
  • ectoine
  • Proline