Reactive oxygen species (ROSs) affect several macromolecules and cellular components in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. In this work, the effect of various ROS-generating compounds on the Escherichia coli membrane was studied. Membrane fatty acid profiles, oxidative damage levels and bacterial resistance to these toxicants were determined. Studies included wild-type cells as well as a strain exhibiting a modified monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) profile (accomplished by overexpressing the β-hydroxyacyl acyl carrier protein dehydratase-encoding gene, fabA). Levels of membrane MUFAs and oxidative damage markers decreased slightly upon toxicant exposure with a concomitant increase in cell resistance to these ROS-generating compounds. A direct relationship between MUFAs and lipid peroxidation was observed. The lower the MUFA the lower the peroxide levels, suggesting that MUFAs are targets for membrane lipid oxidation.
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