Glutathione and the gated potassium channels of Escherichia coli

EMBO J. 1982;1(3):339-43. doi: 10.1002/j.1460-2075.1982.tb01171.x.


Glutathione-deficient mutants of Escherichia coli were found to require high potassium concentrations for growth, unless supplemented with glutathione. The unsupplemented mutants exhibited a rapid leak of potassium when transferred to a K+-free medium and a fast K+ turnover at the steady state of K+ accumulation, contrasting with the slow rate of the same processes in the wild-type. The steady-state level of K+ accumulation in low potassium medium increased immediately upon addition of glutathione, even in the absence of protein synthesis. K+-independent revertants were found to possess restored glutathione synthesis. Many properties of the glutathione-deficient mutants were identical with those of the potassium leaky K-B- and K-C- mutants, which, however, have a normal glutathione content. Both types of mutants differ from the wild-type in their response to thiol reagents in that no rapid loss of K+ is observed: they have, however, clear-cut differences under these circumstances. These results suggest that the products of trkB and trkC genes are essential for the formation of the potassium channel and glutathione plays an important role in the gating process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Ethylmaleimide / pharmacology
  • Glutathione / biosynthesis*
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Potassium / metabolism*


  • Ion Channels
  • Glutathione
  • Ethylmaleimide
  • Potassium