Fatty acids inhibited the ability of Escherichia coli membrane-envelope fragments to catalyze the oxidation of succinate and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, reduced form (NADH) and also inhibited the response of the Clark oxygen electrode to nonenzymatic oxygen uptake. In all cases, unsaturated fatty acids were much more inhibitory than saturated fatty acids. Albumin afforded complete protection from inhibition in the nonenzymatic oxygen-uptake experiments but only partial protection for the respiratory activities of the membrane fragments. The succinoxidase activity was totally inhibited by bovine serum albumin at concentrations that inhibited succinate dehydrogenase only slightly and NADH oxidase not at all. The E. coli acellular preparation showed no dehydrogenase or oxidase activity for any of the fatty acids under a variety of conditions. These conditions included variations of pH, concentration of fatty acids, and the presence or absence of albumin, CoA, ATP, NAD, cysteine, succinate, and carnitine. It thus appears that E. coli grown in the absence of fatty acid can not use fatty acids as an energy source.

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