Toxicity of the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway intermediate carbamyl aspartate in Salmonella typhimurium.

Academic Article


  • Growth of Salmonella typhimurium pyrC or pyrD auxotrophs was severely inhibited in media that caused derepressed pyr gene expression. No such inhibition was observed with derepressed pyrA and pyrB auxotrophs. Growth inhibition was not due to the depletion of essential pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway intermediates or substrates. This result and the pattern of inhibition indicated that the accumulation of the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway intermediate carbamyl aspartate was toxic. This intermediate is synthesized by the sequential action of the first two enzymes of the pathway encoded by pyrA and pyrB and is a substrate for the pyrC gene product. It should accumulate to high levels in pyrC or pyrD mutants when expression of the pyrA and pyrB genes is elevated. The introduction of either a pyrA or pyrB mutation into a pyrC strain eliminated the observed growth inhibition. Additionally, a direct correlation was shown between the severity of growth inhibition of a pyrC auxotroph and the levels of the enzymes that synthesize carbamyl aspartate. The mechanism of carbamyl aspartate toxicity was not identified, but many potential sites of growth inhibition were excluded. Carbamyl aspartate toxicity was shown to be useful as a phenotypic trait for classifying pyrimidine auxotrophs and may also be useful for positive selection of pyrA or pyrB mutants. Finally, we discuss ways of overcoming growth inhibition of pyrC and pyrD mutants under derepressing conditions.
  • Published In


  • Aspartic Acid, Genotype, Kinetics, Orotic Acid, Pyrimidines, Salmonella typhimurium, Species Specificity, Uracil
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Turnbough CL; Bochner BR
  • Start Page

  • 500
  • End Page

  • 505
  • Volume

  • 163
  • Issue

  • 2