MicrobiologyOpen (Jun 2019)

Identification and characterization of a carnitine transporter in Acinetobacter baumannii

  • Jennifer Breisch,
  • Izabela Waclawska,
  • Beate Averhoff

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 6
pp. n/a – n/a


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Abstract The opportunistic pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii is able to grow on carnitine. The genes encoding the pathway for carnitine degradation to the intermediate malic acid are known but the transporter mediating carnitine uptake remained to be identified. The open reading frame HMPREF0010_01347 (aci01347) of Acinetobacter baumannii is annotated as a gene encoding a potential transporter of the betaine/choline/carnitine transporter (BCCT) family. To study the physiological function of Aci01347, the gene was deleted from A. baumannii ATCC 19606. The mutant was no longer able to grow on carnitine as sole carbon and energy source demonstrating the importance of this transporter for carnitine metabolism. Aci01347 was produced in Escherichia coli MKH13, a strain devoid of any compatible solute transporter, and the recombinant E. coli MKH13 strain was found to take up carnitine in an energy‐dependent fashion. Aci01347 also transported choline, a compound known to be accumulated under osmotic stress. Choline transport was osmolarity‐independent which is consistent with the absence of an extended C‐terminus found in osmo‐activated BCCT. We propose that the Aci01347 is the carnitine transporter mediating the first step in the growth of A. baumannii on carnitine.