1982 Volume 152, Issue 2, p682-6
The lactate concentration gradient and the components of the electrochemical proton gradient (delta micro H+) were determined in cells of Streptococcus cremoris growing in batch culture. The membrane potential (delta psi) and the pH gradient (delta pH) were determined from the accumulation of the lipophilic cation tetraphenylphosphonium and the weak acid benzoate, respectively. During growth the external pH decreased from 6.8 to 5.3 due to the production of lactate. Delta pH increased from 0 to -35 mV, inside alkaline (at an external pH of 5.7), and fell to zero directly after growth stopped. Delta psi was nearly constant at -90 mV during growth and also dissipated within 40 min after termination of growth. The internal lactate concentration decreased from 200 mM at the beginning of growth (at pH 6.8) to 30 mM at the end of growth (at pH 5.3); the external lactate concentration increased from 8 to 30 mM due to the fermentation of lactose. Thus, the lactate gradient decreased from 80 mV to zero as growth proceeded and the external pH decreased. From the data obtained on delta psi, delta pH, and the lactate concentration gradient, the H+/lactate stoichiometry (n) was calculated. The value of n varied with the external pH from 1.9 (at pH 6.8) to 0.9 (at pH values below 6). This implies that especially at high pH values the carrier-mediated efflux of lactate supplies a significant quantity of metabolic energy to S. cremoris cells. At pH 6.8 this energy gain was almost two ATP equivalents per molecule of lactose consumed if the H+/ATP stoichiometry equals 2. These results supply strong experimental evidence for the energy recycling model postulated by Michels et al.
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