Biophysical Reviews

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 1359–1369 | Cite as

Corynebacterium glutamicum mechanosensitive channels: towards unpuzzling “glutamate efflux” for amino acid production

  • Yoshitaka NakayamaEmail author
  • Ken-ichi Hashimoto
  • Yasuyuki Sawada
  • Masahiro Sokabe
  • Hisashi Kawasaki
  • Boris Martinac


Corynebacterium glutamicum has been utilized for industrial amino acid production, especially for monosodium glutamate (MSG), the food-additive for the “UMAMI” category of taste sensation, which is one of the five human basic tastes. Glutamate export from these cells is facilitated by the opening of mechanosensitive channels in the cell membrane within the bacterial cell envelope following specific treatments, such as biotin limitation, addition of Tween 40 or penicillin. A long-unsolved puzzle still remains how and why C. glutamicum mechanosensitive channels are activated by these treatments to export glutamate. Unlike mechanosensitive channels in other bacteria, these channels are not simply osmotic safety valves that prevent these bacteria from bursting upon a hypo-osmotic shock. They also function as metabolic valves to continuously release glutamate as components of a pump-and-leak mechanism regulating the cellular turgor pressure. Recent studies have demonstrated that the opening of the mechanosensitive channel, MscCG, mainly facilitates the efflux of glutamate and not of other amino acids and that the “force-from-lipids” gating mechanism of channels also applies to the MscCG channel. The bacterial types of mechanosensitive channels are found in cell-walled organisms from bacteria to land plants, where their physiological functions have been specialized beyond their basic function in bacterial osmoregulation. In the case of the C. glutamicum MscCG channels, they have evolved to function as specialized glutamate exporters.


Corynebacterium glutamicum Mechanosensitive channel Osmoregulation Glutamate production MscCG Volume regulation 



We acknowledge the Japanese Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) for a fellowship to YN, and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia for a Principal Research Fellowship to BM.

Author contributions

Y. N., Y. S., H. K., and B. M. wrote the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was supported by the Discovery Project DP180102813 grant from the Australian Research Council.

Conflict of interest

Yoshitaka Nakayama declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Ken-ichi Hashimoto declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Yasuyuki Sawada declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Masahiro Sokabe declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Hisashi Kawasaki declares that he has no conflicts of interest. Boris Martinac declares that he has no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular Cardiology and Biophysics DivisionVictor Chang Cardiac Research InstituteDarlinghurstAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Green and Sustainable ChemistryTokyo Denki UniversityTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Mechanobiology LaboratoryNagoya University Graduate School of MedicineNagoyaJapan
  4. 4.St Vincent’s Clinical School, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesDarlinghurstAustralia

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