, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 232-239

Glycine betaine reverses the effects of osmotic stress on DNA replication and cellular division in Escherichia coli

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The accumulation of glycine betaine to a high internal concentration by Escherichia coli cells in high osmolarity medium restores, within 1 h, a subnormal growth rate. The experimental results support the view that cell adaptation to high osmolarity involves a decrease in the initiation frequency of DNA replication via a stringent response; in contrast, glycine betaine transport and accumulation could suppress the stringent response within 1–2 min and restore a higher initiation frequency. High osmolarity also triggers the cells to lengthen, perhaps via an inhibition of cellular division; glycine betaine also reverses this process. It is inferred that turgor could control DNA replication and cell division in two separate ways. Glycine betaine action is not mediated by K+ ions as the internal level of K+ ions is not modified significantly following glycine betaine accumulation.