Chemotaxis toward amino acids in Escherichia coli

J Bacteriol. 1972 Oct;112(1):315-26. doi: 10.1128/jb.112.1.315-326.1972.


Escherichia coli cells are shown to be attracted to the l-amino acids alanine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glycine, methionine, serine, and threonine, but not to arginine, cystine, glutamine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, tyrosine, or valine. Bacteria grown in a proline-containing medium were, in addition, attracted to proline. Chemotaxis toward amino acids is shown to be mediated by at least two detection systems, the aspartate and serine chemoreceptors. The aspartate chemoreceptor was nonfunctional in the aspartate taxis mutant, which showed virtually no chemotaxis toward aspartate, glutamate, or methionine, and reduced taxis toward alanine, asparagine, cysteine, glycine, and serine. The serine chemoreceptor was nonfunctional in the serine taxis mutant, which was defective in taxis toward alanine, asparagine, cysteine, glycine, and serine, and which showed no chemotaxis toward threonine. Additional data concerning the specificities of the amino acid chemoreceptors with regard to amino acid analogues are also presented. Finally, two essentially nonoxidizable amino acid analogues, alpha-aminoisobutyrate and alpha-methylaspartate, are shown to be attractants for E. coli, demonstrating that extensive metabolism of attractants is not required for amino acid taxis.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids* / metabolism
  • Aspartic Acid / pharmacology
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Chemotaxis* / drug effects
  • Culture Media
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Genetics, Microbial
  • Mutation
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Proline
  • Serine / pharmacology
  • Threonine


  • Amino Acids
  • Culture Media
  • Threonine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Serine
  • Proline