US 20040038340 A1
The invention relates to the use of mutants of L. casei having at least a mutation impairing the regulation of a carbon catabolite repression (CCR) mechanism involving the PTS protein HPRr, for the preparation of a food product. The use of said mutants allows for instance to impart to said food products an improved texture and flavor, and/or a higher content in aroma compounds.
1) Use of a mutant of L. casei having at least a mutation impairing the regulation of a carbon catabolite repression (CCR) mechanism involving the PTS protein HPr, for the preparation of a food product.
2) The use of
a) mutants having at least a mutation impairing the regulation of CCR through P-His-HPr;
b) mutants having at least a mutation impairing the regulation of CCR through P-Ser-HPr.
3) The use of
4) The use of
a mutation in the ptsH gene impairing the ability of HPr to be phosphorylated at His-15, or to phosphorylate EIIA;
a mutation in the ptsI gene impairing the ability of EI to phosphorylate HPr;
a mutation in a gene encoding an enzyme EIIA, EIIB, or EIIC impairing the transfer of a phosphory group to a carbohydrate.
5) The use of
6) The use of
a mutation in the ptsH gene, impairing the ability of HprK to be phosphorylated at Ser-46;
a mutation in the hprK gene, impairing the ability of HprK to phosphorylate HPr at Ser-46;
a mutation in the ptsH gene, or in the ccpA gene, impairing the formation of a complex between CcpA and P-Ser-HPr or the binding of said complex to cre elements.
7) The use of any of
mutants having at least a mutation in the ptsI gene resulting in the expression of an EI protein devoid of at least aminoacids 110 to 574 of wild-type EI.
mutants having at least a mutation in the hprK gene resulting in the expression of a HprK devoid of at least aminoacids 208 to 319 of wild-type HprK.
mutants having at least a mutation in the ccpA gene resulting in the expression of a CcpA deleted of at least aminoacids 134 to 333 of wild-type CcpA.
mutants in the ptsH gene having at least a mutation resulting in the expression of a HPr having at least one amino-acid substitution at position 15 and/or at position 46 and/or at position 47 of wild-type HPr, and/or at least a mutation resulting in the expression of a HPr deleted of at least one of amino-acids 15, 46, and/or 47 of wild-type HPr.
8) A mutant of L. casei having at least one mutant in at least one of ptsI, ptsH or hprK genes, wherein said mutation impairs at least one of the functions of the product of said genes.
9) A food-grade mutant of L. casei, having at least one mutation in any of ptsI, ptsH, hprK, or ccpA genes.
10) A method for obtaining a food-grade mutant of
transforming L. casei with an integrative vector comprising a mutated gene selected among ptsI, ptsH, hprK, or ccpA, and further comprising a selective marker gene;
culturing the bacteria under selective conditions for the marker gene in order to obtain the bacteria having integrated the plasmid into their chromosome by a single recombination event;
culturing said bacteria under non-selective conditions for the marker gene in order to obtain bacteria having undergone a double recombination event leading to the excision of the vector sequences.
11) A method for obtaining a food-grade mutant of L. casei wherein the catalytic function of HPr is only slightly impaired wherein said method comprises:
providing a mutant strain of L. casei wherein the ptsI gene is inactivated in such a way that the function of EI is totally impaired;
transforming said mutant strain with an integrative vector comprising a ptsHI operon consisting of a wild type ptsI gene and the mutant ptsH gene, and further comprising a selective marker gene;
culturing the bacteria on lactose under selective conditions for the marker gene, and recovering the bacteria having integrated the vector into their chromosome by a single recombination event;
culturing the selected bacteria on lactose and under non-selective conditions for the marker gene in order to obtain bacteria having undergone a double recombination event leading to the excision of the vector sequences.
12) A process for preparing a food product or food additive wherein said process comprises fermenting a food substrate with a mutant of L. casei, as defined in any of
13) A process of
14) A process of any of claims 12 or 13, for preparing a food product enriched with aroma compounds, comprising by fermenting a food substrate with a strain ofL. casei having a mutation impairing the function of CcpA.
15) A process of any of claims 12 or 13, for preparing a food product having an improved texture and flavor, comprising fermenting a food substrate with a strain of L. casei having a mutation impairing the function of EI.
16) A fermented food product obtainable by a process according to any of claims 12 to 15.
17) A fermented food product comprising at least a mutant of L. casei, as defined in any of
 The present invention relates to mutant strains of bacteria of the group Lactobacillus casei defective in a carbon catabolism regulation pathway, and to their use in the processing of fermented foods.
 As defined herein, the group Lactobacillus casei includes the species L. casei, as well as the species L. paracasei (formerly L. casei subsp. paracasei), L. rhamnosus (formerly L. casei subsp. rhamnosus) and L. zeae. Those species are phylogenetically very closely related to each other and their respective 16S and 23S rDNA genes always show a similarity greater than 97.5% [MORI et al., Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol., 47, 54-57, (1997)].
L. casei is recognized as a probiotic, i.e. a live microbial feed supplement having a positive effect on the health of the consumer; and is widely used as a starter in dairy industry and in the preparation of fermented food, more specifically food containing living ferments.
 Carbon catabolite repression (CCR) is a regulatory mechanism allowing bacteria to choose between different carbon sources according to their metabolic value and to switch from a carbon source to another depending on their availability in the growth medium. A well-known manifestation of catabolic repression is the diauxic growth that occurs when bacteria are grown in presence of both glucose and lactose. Diauxic growth curves show two distinct phases of exponential growth, separated by a lag phase. During the first phase of growth, glucose represses the synthesis of the enzymes necessary for lactose utilisation, and is therefore the only source of energy of the bacteria. When all the glucose is exhausted occurs the lag phase, during which the enzymes for lactose utilisation are synthesised, allowing lactose to be used as a source of energy during the second phase of growth.
 A main target of catabolite repression is the transport of sugars into the bacterial cell. In L. casei, this transport is predominantly performed by the phosphoenolpyruvate:carbohydrate phosphotransferase system (PTS).
 The PTS of gram-positive bacteria has been studied mainly in Bacillus subtilis; it has been shown that it effects the phosphorylation of sugars and their transfer into the cell through a cascade of phosphorylations involving the general non-sugar-specific enzymes EI and HPr, and the sugar-specific enzymes EIIA, EIIB, and EIIC. The first step is the phosphorylation of EI from phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP). The phosphorylated EI (EI-P) catalyses the phosphorylation of HPr, at the catalytic His-15. HPr phosphorylated at His-15 (designated as P-His-HPr) transfers its phosphoryl group to EIIA, which in turn phosphorylates EIIB. Phosphorylated EIIB (P-EIIB) associated with the membrane protein EIIC, catalyses the simultaneous uptake and phosphorylation of a specific carbohydrate.
 It has been shown that components of the PTS, and more specifically the enzyme HPr, are also involved in other regulatory pathways.
 For instance, P-His-HPr can transfer its phosphoryl group also to non-PTS proteins, such as glycerol kinase [CHARRIER et al., J. Biol. Chem., 272, 14166-14174, (1997)] or antiterminators and transcriptional activators possessing the PTS regulation domain (PRD) which contains several phosphorylation sites recognised by P-His-HPr [TORTOSA et al., J. Biol. Chem., 272, 17230-17237, (1997); STÜLKE et al., Mol. Microbiol., 28, 865-874, (1998); LINDNER et al., Mol. Microbiol., 31, 995-1006, (1999)]. In all cases, P-His-HPr-dependent phosphorylation leads to the activation of the function of the non-PTS proteins and this phosphorylation has been shown to serve as a secondary carbon catabolite repression mechanism in Gram-positive bacteria [DEUTSCHER et al., J. Bacteriol., 175, 3730-3733, (1993); KRÜGER et al., J. Bacteriol., 178, 2637-2644, (1996); MARTIN-VERSTRAETE et al., Mol. Microbiol., 28, 293-303, (1998)]. In Lactobacillus casei, the antiterminator LacT, which regulates the expression of the lac operon, contains two PRD and seems to be controlled by this mechanism.
 In Gram-positive bacteria, HPr may also be phosphorylated by the bifunctional HPr kinase/phosphatase HprK [GALINIER et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95, 1823-1828, (1998); REIZER et al., Mol. Microbiol., 27, 1157-1169, (1998); BROCHU and VADEBONCOEUR, J. Bacteriol., 181, 709-717, (1999); KRAVANJA et al., Mol. Microbiol., 31, 59-66, (1999)1. In Bacillus subtilis, this phosphorylation, which occurs at the regulatory Ser-46 [DEUTSCHER et al., Biochemistry, 25, 6543-6551, (1986)], is stimulated by fructose-1,6-bisphosphate and inhibited by inorganic phosphate [GALINIER et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95, 1823-1828, (1998)]. HPr phosphorylated at Ser-46 (designated as P-Ser-HPr), participates in the major mechanism of CCR/carbon catabolite activation operative in bacilli and presumably other Gram-positive bacteria [DEUTSCHER et al., Mol. Microbiol., 42, 171-178, (1997)]. It functions as corepressor for the catabolite control protein CcpA, a member of the LacI/GalR family of transcriptional repressors/activators [HENKIN et al., Mol. Microbiol., 5, 575-584, (1991)]. The complex formed between CcpA and P-Ser-HPr has been shown to bind to catabolite response elements (cre) [FUJITA and MIWA, J. Bacteriol., 176, 511-513, (1994); GÖSSERINGER et al., J. Mol. Biol., 266, 665-676, (1997); KIM et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95, 9590-9595, (1998); GALINIER et al., J. Mol. Biol., 286, 307-314, (1999); MARTIN-VERSTRAETE et al., Mol. Microbiol., 28, 293-303, (1999)], operator sites preceding or overlapping the promoters or being located within the 5′ region of catabolite repressed genes and operons [HUECK et al., Res. Microbiol., 145, 503-518, (1994)]. For instance, a functional cre element is found in the promoter region of the lactose operon lacTEGF of L. casei, which comprises the genes lacE and lacF encoding respectively the lactose transport enzymes EIICBLac and EIIALac together with genes encoding an antiterminator protein (lacT), and a phospho-beta-galactosidase (lacG) [GOSALBES et al., J. Bacteriol., 181, 3928-3934, (1999)].
 Genes encoding components of CCR system, and more specifically genes related to the PTS, such as ptsI and ptsH encoding respectively the enzymes EI and HPr of the PTS system, hprK encoding the HPr kinase/phosphatase, and ccpA have been characterised in some species of Gram-positive bacteria.
 In L. casei, the gene ccpA [MONEDERO et al., J. Bacteriol., 179, 6657-6664, (1997)], and the genes lacT, lacE, lacG and lacF [GOSALBES et al., referred above; POTER and CHASSY, Gene, 62, 263-276, (1988); ALPERT and CHASSY, Gene, 62, 277-288, (1988); ALPERT and CHASSY, J. Biol. Chem., 265, 22561-22568, (1990); ALPERT and SIEBERS, J. Bacteriol., 179, 1555-1562, (1997)], have been cloned and characterised until now.
 The inventors have recently identified, cloned and sequenced the ptsI, ptsH and hprK genes of L. casei.
 The nucleotidic sequence of the ptsHI operon, and the peptidic sequences of HPr and EI of L. casei are respectively disclosed in the enclosed sequence listing under the identifiers SEQ ID NO:1, SEQ ID NO:2, and SEQ ID NO: b 3. The sequence of the hprK gene is available in GENBANK under the access number Y18948.
 The inventors have now studied the effect of mutations in ptsI, ptsH and hprK, as well as the effect of mutations in ccpA on growth and metabolic properties of L. casei. They found that, surprisingly, L. casei strains having mutations impairing the regulation of carbon catabolite repression mechanisms involving the PTS enzyme HPr, and more specifically mutations impairing the regulation of the PTS, and/or mutations impairing the transcriptional regulation of catabolite repressed genes through the binding of the complex CcpA/P-Ser-HPr, possess an improved capacity to produce compounds useful in the food industry, such as aroma compounds and/or polysaccharides.
 An object of the present invention is the use of a mutant of L. casei having at least a mutation impairing the regulation of a carbon catabolite repression mechanism involving the PTS enzyme HPr, for the preparation of a food product.
 Preferably, said mutant is selected from the group consisting of:
 a) mutants having at least a mutation impairing the regulation of CCR through P-His-HPr;
 b) mutants having at least a mutation impairing the regulation of CCR through P-Ser-HPr.
 Mutations of sub-group a) include in particular:
 mutations in genes encoding the components of the PTS, for instance: any mutation in the ptsH gene impairing the ability of HPr to be phosphorylated at His-15, or to phosphorylate EIIA; any mutation in the ptsI gene impairing the ability of EI to phosphorylate HPr at His-15; any mutation in a gene encoding an enzyme EIIA, EIIB, or EIIC impairing the transfer of a phosphoryl group to a carbohydrate;
 mutations in genes encoding antiterminators or transcriptional activators having the PTS regulation domain, for instance any mutation impairing the phosphorylation of any of these antiterminators or transcriptional activators by P-His-HPr and/or by P-EIIB or mimicking the phosphorylated form of the antiterminator (for example phosphorylatable histidyl residues mutated to Asp or Glu);
 mutations destroying terminators located in front of genes regulated by antiterminators which are phosphorylated and controlled by P-His-HPr and/or by P-EIIB.
 Mutations of sub-group b) include in particular: any mutation in the ptsH gene impairing the ability of HPr to be phosphorylated at Ser-46; any mutation in the hprK gene impairing the ability of HprK to phosphorylate HPr at Ser-46; any mutation in the ptsH gene or in the ccpA gene impairing the formation of a complex between CcpA and P-Ser-HPr or the binding of said complex to cre elements; any mutation in said cre elements impairing their ability to bind said CcpA/P-Ser-HPr complex.
 Non-limitative examples of mutants of L. casei which can be used according to the invention are:
 mutants having at least a mutation in the ptsI gene resulting in the lack of expression of enzyme EI, or in the expression of an enzyme EI devoid of at least an active domain of wild-type EI. For instance, a mutant of the invention may be obtained by introduction of a frameshift mutation at location 870 of the sequence SEQ ID NO:1. The insertion of four nucleotides (sequence AATT) at this location results in a stop codon four codons after the site of insertion. This results in the expression of a truncated EI protein devoid of at least aminoacids 110 to 574 of wild-type EI, with the addition of four new codons before the first translational stop codon.
 mutants having at least a mutation in the hprK gene resulting in the lack of expression of HprK or in the expression of a HprK devoid of at least an active domain of wild-type HprK. For instance, a mutant of the invention may be devoid of at least aminoacids 208 to 319 of wild-type HprK.
 mutants having at least a mutation in the ccpA gene resulting in the lack of expression of CcpA or in the expression of a CcpA devoid of at least an active domain of wild-type CcpA. For instance, a mutant of the invention may be obtained by introduction of a frameshift mutation at location 710 of the sequence U28137 of GENBANK. The insertion of four nucleotides (sequence AATT) at this location results in a stop codon five codons after the site of insertion, and in the expression of a CcpA devoid of at least aminoacids 134 to 333 of wild-type CcpA. - mutants in the ptsH gene having at least a mutation resulting in the lack of expression of HPr or in the expression of a HPr having at least one amino-acid substitution at position 15 and/or at position 46 and/or at position 47 of wild-type HPr, and/or at least a mutation resulting in the expression of a HPr deleted of at least one of amino-acids 15, 46, and/or 47 of wild-type HPr.
 The invention also provides:
 mutants of L. casei having at least one mutation in at least one of ptsI, or ptsH genes, wherein said mutation impairs at least one of the functions of the product of said gene;
 food-grade mutants of L. casei, having at least one mutation impairing at least one of the functions of a gene involved in the regulation of a carbon catabolite repression mechanism through the PTS enzyme HPr. This includes more particularly food-grade mutants having at least one mutation in any of ptsI, ptsH, hprK, or ccpA genes.
 “Food-grade mutants” are herein defined as mutant bacteria acceptable for use in preparation of food. To be food-grade, the mutants must not comprise sequences derived from microorganisms other than the ones used in food industry. Preferably, they must not comprise sequences derived from microorganisms other than those belonging to the species from which the mutant derives. Also they must not comprise potentially harmful DNA sequences such as antibiotic resistance genes.
L. casei mutants of ccpA gene (MONEDERO et al., J. Bacteriol., 179, 6657-6664, (1997) were already known in the art; however they were not food-grade mutants.
 Mutants of the invention may be obtained by the conventional molecular biology methods. From the sequences of L. casei genes such as ptsI, ptsH, hprK or other L. casei genes known in the art, such as ccpA, the skilled artisan can easily design tools allowing to perform the desired mutations through directed mutagenesis. Said mutations may be obtained by the insertion, deletion, and/or substitution of one nucleotide or of several nucleotides, adjacent or not.
 Said mutations may for instance be obtained by the deletion of said regulatory DNA sequence or of the said insertion, deletion, and/or substitution of one nucleotide or of several nucleotides, adjacent or not.
 Such mutations include in particular any mutation resulting in the production of a protein having at least one deletion, insertion, or non-conservative substitutions of one or several amino acid residues in a domain essential for the biological activity of said protein.
 The mutant gene thus obtained is then cloned into a vector, preferably an expression vector, and used to transform L. casei host cells by any appropriate method, known in itself. Methods and vectors suitable for the transformation of L. casei are for instance disclosed by POSNO et al. [Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 57, 1822-1828, (1991)].
 By way of example, one can use an extrachromosomal vector able to replicate in L. casei. However, in order to obtain stable mutants, a vector allowing the integration of the mutant gene into the chromosome of L. casei will be preferred.
 Integration of the mutant gene into the bacterial chromosome occurs by recombination of the vector genetic material at a homologous site (generally the wild-type allele of the mutant gene) on the bacterial chromosome. Integration may result from a single or double recombination event. Single recombination events result in integration of the entire vector. Double recombination events lead to the excision of the exogenous vector sequences.
 By way of example, a method for integration of a mutant lacT, lacE, or lacF gene in the chromosome of L. casei is disclosed by GOSALBES et al. [J. Bacteriol. 181, 3928-3934, (1999)]. This method includes cloning a wild-type gene in an integrative plasmid (pRV300, having an ErmR marker), inducing a mutation in the cloned gene (for example by cutting the gene with a restriction enzyme and by introducing a mutation by making the restriction site blunt-end), transforming L. casei with the plasmid comprising the mutated gene, culturing the bacteria in selective medium containing erythromycin in order to select the bacteria having integrated the plasmid by a single recombination event (which are ErmR). Further cultivation of these ErmR bacteria in non-selective medium (i.e. without erythromycin) allows to obtain bacteria having undergone a double recombination event leading to the excision of the vector sequences.
 Such a method can be used, for instance, for obtaining food-grade mutants wherein the function of EI, HPr, HprK, or CcpA is completely or partially impaired. This method comprises:
 transforming L. casei with an integrative vector comprising a mutated gene selected among ptsI, ptsH, hprK, or ccpA, and further comprising a selective marker gene;
 culturing the bacteria under selective conditions for the marker gene (for instance, if the marker gene is an antibiotic resistance gene, in presence of the corresponding antibiotic) and recovering the bacteria able to grow in these conditions, i.e. having integrated the vector into their chromosome by a single recombination event;
 culturing said bacteria under non-selective conditions for the marker gene in order to obtain bacteria having undergone a double recombination event leading to the excision of the vector sequences.
 This double recombination event produces bacteria having a wild-type phenotype and bacteria having the desired mutation. The latter can then be screened on the basis of their phenotypic properties, and/or by PCR amplification of the chromosomic region wherein the mutation was targeted and analysis of the amplification products (for instance comparison of the restriction profiles). The presence of the desired mutation can further be confirmed by DNA sequencing.
 A preferred method for obtaining food-grade mutants wherein the catalytic function of HPr is only slightly impaired comprises:
 transforming a mutant strain of L. casei wherein the ptsI gene is inactivated in such a way that function of EI is totally impaired, with an integrative vector comprising a ptsHI operon consisting of a wild type ptsI gene and the mutant ptsH gene, and further comprising a selective marker gene;
 culturing the transformed bacteria on lactose under selective conditions for the marker gene, and recovering the bacteria having integrated the vector into their chromosome by a single recombination event;
 culturing the selected bacteria on lactose and under non-selective conditions for the marker gene in order to obtain bacteria having undergone a double recombination event leading to the excision of the vector sequences.
 Clones containing an intact ptsI gene and a mutated ptsH gene can be selected on the basis of their slightly reduced growth on lactose. The presence of the mutation can be confirmed by DNA sequencing.
 Mutant strains of the invention can also be obtained from wild-type strains of L. casei through classical mutation methods, for instance chemical or UV induced mutagenesis. They can also be naturally occurring mutants isolated from L. casei populations.
 For instances, reporter gene fusions to catabolite repressed or activated genes could be used to identify ccpA, ptsH or hprK mutants defective in carbon catabolite repression or carbon catabolite activation.
 Mutant strains of the invention may also be selected on the basis of their metabolic properties. For instance: mutants in the ptsI or ptsH gene may be selected on the basis of their resistance to 2-deoxy glucose. Mutants in the ptsI gene or mutants in the ptsH gene having an inactive EI or HPr, respectively, may also be selected on the basis of their ability to grow on non-PTS sugar but not on PTS sugars.
 The invention also provides a process for preparing a food product or food additive wherein said process comprises fermenting a food substrate with a mutant strain of L. casei, as defined above.
 Preferably said food product is a dairy product.
 According to a preferred embodiment, the process of the invention comprises preparing a food product enriched with aroma compounds (such as acetate, acetoin, diacetyl, hydroxy-3-pentanone, propionate) by fermenting a food substrate with a strain of L. casei having a mutation impairing the function of CcpA.
 According to another preferred embodiment, the process of the invention comprises preparing a food product having an improved texture and flavor by fermenting a food substrate with a strain of L. casei having a mutation impairing the function of EI.
 The invention also provides fermented food products obtainable by the process of the invention, and, in particular fermented food products comprising at least a mutant strain of L. casei as defined above.
 The present invention will be further illustrated by the additional description which follows, which refers to examples of construction and use of mutant strains of L. casei of the invention. It should be understood however that these examples are given only by way of illustration of the invention and do not constitute in any way a limitation thereof.
 Strains, Plasmids and Culture Conditions
 The L. casei strains and plasmids used for the characterisation of ptsH and ptsI genes and construction of mutants thereof are listed in Table 1a and 1b below.
L. casei cells were grown at 37° C. under static condition in MRS medium (OXOID) or MRS fermentation medium (ADSA-MICRO, Scharlau S. A., Barcelona, Spain) containing 0.5% of the indicated carbohydrates.
 For diauxic growth experiments, L. casei strains were grown in MRS basal medium containing in 1 l: polypeptone (DIFCO), 10 g; meat extract (DIFCO), 10 g; yeast extract (DIFCO), 5 g; K2HPO4.3H2O, 2 g; sodium acetate, 5 g; di-ammonium citrate, 2 9; MgSO4, 0.1 g; MnSO4, 0.05 g and TWEEN 80, 1 ml. The basal medium was supplemented with different sugars at a final concentration of 0.5%, but for the diauxic growth experiments the sugar concentrations were changed as indicated in the text. E. coli DH5α was grown with shaking at 37° C. in Luria-Bertani (LB) medium.
 Transformed bacteria were plated on the respective solid media containing 1.5% agar. The concentrations of antibiotics used for the selection of E. coli transformants were 100 g per ml ampicillin, and 300 μg per ml erythromycin and for the selection of L. casei integrants 5 μg per ml erythromycin.
 The sugar utilization pattern of certain strains was determined with the API50-CH galeries (BIOMERIEUX, Marcy l'Etoile, France).
 Purification of HPr
 Cells from an over-night culture (1 l of MRS medium) were centrifuged and washed twice with 20 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.4. The cells were resuspended in 20 mM ammonium bicarbonate buffer, pH 8 (2 ml per gram of cell pellet), sonicated (BRANSON SONIFIER 250) and then centrifuged to remove the cell debris. As HPr resists to heat treatment, the supernatant was kept at 70° C. for 5 min to precipitate most of the other proteins. An additionnal centrifugation step was performed to remove the heat-denatured proteins. The supernatant was loaded on a Sephadex G-75 column (42 cm×1.6 cm) equilibrated with 20 mM ammonium bicarbonate, pH 8, which was eluted with the same buffer, and fractions of 1.5 ml were collected. To test for the presence of HPr in these fractions, a mutant complementation assay with the S. aureus ptsH mutant strain S797A was carried out [HENGSTENBERG et al., J. Bacteriol., 99, 383-388, (1969)]. HPr activity was detected in fractions 48 to 56. These fractions were pooled and concentrated to a final volume of 500 μl.
 Half of the partially purified HPr was separated by reverse phase chromatography on a VYDAC C-18 HPLC column (300 Å, 250 mm×4.6 mm; TOUZART ET MATIGNON, France). Solvent A was an aqueous solution of 0.1% (v/v) of trifluoroacetic acid and solvent B contained 80% acetonitrile and 0.04% trifluoroacetic acid. Proteins were eluted with a linear gradient from 5 to 100% of solvent B in 60 min at a flow rate of 500 μl/min. Fractions with a volume of about 500 μl were collected manually. The presence of HPr in the fractions was tested by a PEP-dependent phosphorylation assay containing 10 mM MgCl2, 50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.4, 10 μl aliquots of the fractions, 10 μM [32P]PEP and 1.5 μg of B. subtilis enzyme I(His)6. Enzyme I(His)6 and HPr(His)6 of B. subtilis were purified by ion chelate chromatography on a Ni-NTA SEPHAROSE column (QIAGEN) after expression from plasmids pAG3 and pAG2, respectively [GALINIER et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94, 8439-8444, (1997)]. HPr(His)6 from B. subtilis was used as a standard in the phosphorylation reactions. (32p]PEP was prepared from γ-[32P]ATP via the pyruvate kinase exchange reaction [ROOSSIEN et al., Biochim. Biophys. Acta., 760, 185-187, (1983)]. The assay mixtures were incubated 10 minutes at 37° C. and separated on 15% polyacrylamide gels containing 1% SDS [LAEMMLI, Nature, 227, 680-685, (1970)]. After drying the gels, radiolabelled proteins were detected by autoradiography. HPr was found to elute at 60% acetonitrile in fractions 44 to 46. These fractions were pooled, lyophilised and aliquots corresponding to approximately 0.5 nmol of HPr were used to determine the first 21 N-terminal amino-acids of HPr by automated Edman degradation on a 473A APPLIED BIOSYSTEMS microsequencer.
 Cloning of PCR-amplified L. casei ptsHI Fragments.
 To amplify L. casei DNA fragments containing ptsH and part of ptsI, the following degenerate oligonucleotides were designed based on the N-terminal sequence of HPr and on strongly conserved regions in enzyme I which were detected by carrying out an alignment of different enzyme I sequences: PTS-H2 (5′-ATG GAA AAR CGN GAR TTY AAY-3′) (MEKREFN); PTS-I3 (5′-GCC AIN GTR TAY TGR ATY ARR TCR TT-3′) (NDLIOYTMA); PTS-I4 (5′-CCR TCN SAN GCN GCR ATN CC-3′) (GIAASDG);
 where R stands for A or G, Y for C or T, S for C or G and N for any nucleotide. Shown underlined in parentheses are the N-terminal amino acid sequence of HPr and the conserved enzyme I sequences which served to design the primers.
 PCR amplification of the two fragments comprising part of the ptsHI operon, was performed with a PROGENE thermocycler (REAL, S. L., Valencia, Spain) programmed for 30 cycles including the following three steps: 30 sec at 95° C., 30 sec at 50° C. and 1 min at 72° C., followed by a final extension cycle at 72° C. for 5 min.
 Two combinations of primers (PTS-H2/PTS-I3 and PTS-H2/PTS-I4) gave PCR-amplified fragments of 1.6 kb and 0.3 kb, respectively. Sequencing of the PCR products revealed that the deduced amino acid sequences exhibited strong similarity to the sequences of known enzyme I and HPr. As expected, both DNA fragments began with the 5′ end of ptsH and extended to the region in ptsI encoding the conserved sequence chosen as basis for the second primer. The larger of the two fragments obtained with primer PTS-I3 was cloned into pUC18, providing plasmid pUCR-H1. Cloning of PCR fragments was achieved with the SURECLONE Ligation Kit (PHARMACIA BIOTECH, Ltd., Uppsala, Sweden).
 A 865 bp EcoRI fragment which contained an internal part of the ptsI gene was obtained from plasmid pUCR-H1 and subcloned into the suicide vector pRV300 [LELOUP et al., Appl. Environm. Microbiol., 63, 2117-2123, (1997)], providing plasmid pVME800.
 This plasmid was used to transform the L. casei wild-type strain BL23 and integration of the plasmid at the correct location (ptsI: :pVME800) was verified by PCR and southern blot.
 Restriction analysis of the ptsHI region was carried out by southern hybridisation using DNA isolated from one integrant (BL124) with the aim to identify restriction enzymes allowing cloning of the ptsH and ptsI genes together with their flanking regions.
 Cloning of the regions flanking the insertion site of plasmid pRV300 was performed as follows: DNA (10 μg) from L. casei BL124 was digested with SacI or HindIII, diluted 500-fold, religated with T4 DNA ligase and different aliquots were used to transform E. coli DHSα. Plasmid DNA was isolated from several transformants and subsequently sequenced.
 Digestion of BL124 DNA with SacI and religation of the obtained DNA fragments allowed to isolate plasmid pVMS1 carrying an about 9 kb insert. Partial sequencing of this insert revealed that it contained the 3′ part of ptsI and its downstream region. The same experiment carried out with HindIII allowed to isolate plasmid pVMH1 carrying a 2.4 kb insert comprising the complete ptsH gene together with part of its promoter region and the 5′ part of ptsI.
 The sequence containing the complete ptsH promoter and 560 bp of the upstream region was subsequently obtained by reverse PCR. For this purpose, DNA isolated from the L. casei wild-type strain BL23 was cut with PstI and religated with T4 DNA ligase (GIBCO-BRL). 20 ng of the ligated DNA and two primers derived from the 5′ part of ptsH and oriented in opposite directions were used to specifically amplify by PCR a 2.3 kb fragment containing the upstream region of ptsH. The sequence comprising 560 bp upstream from the ptsHI promoter has been determined in this fragment.
 In total, a continuous stretch of 4150 bp has been sequenced. It contained the complete ptsH and ptsI genes and an open reading frame (ORF) located downstream of ptsI. The stop codon of ptsH was found to overlap with the initiation codon of ptsI by 1 bp, suggesting that these two genes are organised in an operon. Whereas the encoded L. casei HPr and enzyme I exhibited sequence similarities ranging from 65 to 85% when compared to their homologues in B. subtilis, Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus sakei, Streptococcus salivarius or Enterococcus faecalis, the protein encoded by the ORF located downstream of ptsI exhibited similarity to the sugar permeases XylE [DAVIS and HENDERSON, J. Biol. Chem., 262, 13928-13932, (1987)] and GalP [PAO et al., Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev., 62, 1-34, (1998)] from Escherichia coli. No ORF could be detected in the 560 bp region upstream from the ptsHI promoter.
FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of the sequenced chromosomal L. casei DNA fragment containing the ptsHI operon. Indicated are the three ORF's detected in this fragment, the promoter and terminator of the ptsHI operon and several important restriction sites. The initially isolated PCR fragments H2/I4 and H2/I3 (flanked by inverted arrows) and the 865 bp EcoRI fragment, which was called E800 and subcloned into pRV300, are shown above the schematic presentation of the total DNA fragment.
 Transcriptional Analysis of the L. casei ptsHI Operon
 To determine the size of the ptsHI transcripts and to test the effect of a man (prevents the uptake of glucose via the PTS) and a ccpA mutation on ptsHI expression, Northern blots were performed with RNA isolated not only from the L. casei wild-type BL23, but also from the mutant strains BL30 (man) [VEYRAT et al., Microbiology, 140, 1141-1149, (1994)], BL71 (ccpA) [MONEDERO et al., J. Bacteriol., 179, 6657-6664, (1997)] and BL72 (man ccpA) [GOSALBES et al., FEMS Microbiol. Lett., 148, 83-89, (1997)], which were grown in medium containing either glucose, lactose or ribose.
L. casei strains were grown in MRS fermentation medium supplemented with 0.5% of the different sugars to an OD at 550 nm between 0,8 and 1. Cells from a 10 ml culture were collected by centrifugation, washed with 50 mM EDTA and resuspended in 1 ml of TRIZOL (GIBCO BRL). 1 g of glass beads (diameter 0.1 mm) was added and the cells were broken by shaking the cell suspension in a FASTPREP apparatus (BIOSPEC, Bartlesville, OK, USA) two times for 45 s. RNA was isolated according to the procedure recommended by the manufacturer of TRIZOL, separated by formaldehyde-agarose gel electrophoresis and transferred to HYBOND-N membranes (AMERSHAM).
 Hybridisation experiments were carried out with either ptsH- or ptsI-specific probes. With both probes, a mRNA band of about 2.1 kb could be detected, which is in good agreement with the size expected for the combined ptsH and ptsI genes, confirming that these two genes are organised in an operon and that transcription stops at the stem loop structure located downstream of ptsI.
 Densitometric measurement of the hybridising bands in the RNA isolated from cells of the different mutants grown in glucose-, lactose-, or ribose-containing medium showed that expression of the ptsHI operon was moderately induced by glucose in the wild type and ccpA mutant, while this effect was less pronounced in the strains carrying the man mutation.
 I—Construction and Characterisation of ptsI Mutants Mutant BL124
 This mutant results from transformation of L. casei wild-type strain BL23 with plasmid pVME800, as described in Example 1 above.
 In contrast to the wild-type strain, this mutant can no longer produce acid from fructose, mannose, mannitol, sorbose, sorbitol, amygdaline, arbutine, salicine, cellobiose, lactose, tagatose, trehalose and turanose. However, it can still metabolise ribose, galactose, glucose, N-acetylglucosamine, aesculine, maltose and gluconate, suggesting that in L. casei PTS-independent transport systems exist for this second class of sugars.
 Mutant BL126
 Plasmid pVMH1 was partially digested with EcoRI and made blunt end (filled in with the Klenow fragment) before it was religated and used to transform E. coli DH5α. From one of the resulting transformants, a plasmid (pVMR10) could be isolated bearing a frame-shift mutation at the EcoRI site located at nucleotide 327 of the ptsI gene, as was confirmed by restriction analysis and DNA sequencing (insertion of 4 additional base pairs). Plasmid pVMR10 was subsequently used to transform L. casei BL23 and an erythromycin-resistant ptsI+ integrant resulting from a Campbell-like recombination was isolated.
 From this strain, a ptsI mutant (ptsI1, BL126) could be obtained by a second recombination. BL126 was erythromycin-sensitive and exhibited a fermentation pattern identical to that found for the ptsI: :pVME800 mutant BL124. Interestingly, no ptsHI mRNA could be detected in BL126 by Northern blot analysis.
 II—Construction of ptsH Mutants Altered at Ser-46 or Ile-47
 PCR-based site directed mutagenesis was carried out with the L. casei ptsH gene present in plasmid pVMH1 (Table 1) to replace either Ser-46 with alanine, aspartic acid or threonine, or Ile-47 with threonine.
 Site-directed mutagenesis was performed in order to replace the codon for Ser-46 of L. casei ptsH with a codon for Ala, Asp or Thr and the codon for Ile-47 with a codon for Thr.
 For this purpose, PCR amplification was carried out using as template the plasmid pVMH1 containing the L. casei wild-type pstH gene as well as the 5′ part of the ptsI gene and as primers the reverse primer of pBLUESCRIPT (STRATAGENE) and one of the following oligonucleotides:
 5′ptsHS46A (5′-AAG AGC GTT AAC TTG AAG GCT ATC ATG GGC G-3′);
 5′ptsHS46T (5′-AAG AGC GTT AAC TIG AAG ACT AIC ATG GGC G-3′);
 5′ptsHS46D (5′-AAG AGC GTT AAC TIG AAQ GAT ATC ATG GGC G-3′);
 5′ptsHI47T (5′-AAG AGC GTT AAC TIG AAG TCT ACC ATG GGC G-3′).
 In these oligonucleotides, the codons for Ser-46 or Ile-47 were replaced by the indicated codon (underlined).
 The resulting 1.4 kb PCR fragments containing the ptsH alleles (from codon 40) and the 5′ part of ptsI were digested with HpaI (the HpaI site present in ptsH before codon 46 is indicated in italics in the above primers) and SacI and used to replace the wild-type 1.4 kb HpaI/SacI fragment in pVMH1.
 In order to confirm the presence of the mutations, the sequence of the ptsH alleles was determined in the four constructed plasmids. To eliminate mutations possibly introduced in the ptsI gene by the PCR amplification, the 1.35 kb BalI/SacI fragment from pVMH1 was used to replace the corresponding fragment in each of the four plasmids containing the various ptsH alleles. A unique BalI site is present 2i bp behind codon 46 of L. casei ptsH in pVMH1 and the pVMH1 derivatives carrying the different ptsH alleles.
 The four resulting plasmids carrying the various ptsH alleles were named pVMH2, pVMH3, pVMH4 and pVMH5, respectively (Table 1), and were used to transform the L. casei ptsI mutant BL126.
FIG. 2 is a schematic presentation of possible recombination events during the construction of ptsH mutants with the ptsI1 strain BL126 and the pVMH plasmids containing the various ptsH alleles. Integration of a pVMH plasmid carrying a mutation in ptsH (indicated by the filled circle) into the chromosome of BL126 carrying a frame shift mutation in ptsI (indicated by the filled triangle) by Campbell-like recombination could take place at three different locations (before the ptsH mutation, between the ptsH and ptsI mutations and after the ptsI mutation) resulting in the three different DNA arrangements presented under: “1st recombination”.
 Integrants obtained by the first (1) and second (2) type of recombination exhibited a lac− phenotype, whereas integrants obtained by the third type of recombination (3) could slowly ferment lactose (probably due to a readthrough from a plasmid-located promoter).
 The three different DNA arrangements presented on FIG. 2 under: “2nd recombination” are obtained from type 3 integrants after a second recombination event leading to the excision of the pVMH plasmid. 3a provides a lac− strain having a frame shift mutation in ptsI; 3b provides a wild-type strain (lac+); 3c provides the desired ptsH mutant (lac+).
 Transformation or the L. casei ptsI mutant BL126 with pVMH2, pVMH3, pVMH4 or pVMH5 resulted in erythromycin-resistant recombinants generated by the first recombination.
 Type 3 integrants obtained with each of the three pVMH plasmids were grown for 200 generations without selective pressure to allow the second recombination leading to the excision of the PVMH plasmids. Erythromycin-sensitive clones able to ferment lactose were therefore isolated.
 Two types of erythromycin-sensitive lactose-fermenting recombinants were obtained which exhibited slightly different growth characteristics. Using appropriate primers, the ptsH alleles of two clones of the slower and faster growing recombinants were amplified by PCR and sequenced. For each ptsH allele, the two faster growing clones contained the wild-type ptsH, whereas the slightly slower growing strains carried either the Ser-46-Ala (ptsH1, BL121), the Ser-46-Thr (ptsH2, BL122) or the Ile-47-Thr ptsH mutation (ptsH3, BL123).
 No strain synthesising Ser-46-Asp mutant HPr could be obtained with this method, although PCR amplification followed by DNA sequencing was carried out with fifteen erythromycin-sensitive clones constructed with plasmid pVMH4.
 The ptsH Mutations Affect CCR and Diauxic Growth
 In order to test the effect of the different amino acid substitutions in HPr on diauxie, the growth behaviour of the mutants on basal MRS broth supplemented with 0.1% glucose and 0.2% lactose was compared to that of the wild-type and a ccpA mutant.
FIG. 3 represents the growth behaviour of L. casei wild-type and ccpA and ptsH mutant strains in MRS basal medium containing 0.1% glucose and 0.2% lactose. The symbols represent: filled circles, wild-type BL23; filled squares, ccpA mutant BL71; open circles, ptsH1 mutant BL121; filled triangles, ptsH2 mutant BL122; open triangles, ptsH3 mutant BL123.
 As previously demonstrated [VEYRAT et al., Microbiology, 140, 1141-1149, (1994); GOSALBES et al., FEMS Microbiol. Lett., 148, 83-89, (1997); GOSALBES et al., J. Bacteriol., 181, 3928-3934, (1999)], the L. casei wild-type strain exhibited strong diauxic growth in the presence of these two sugars with a lag phase of about 15 h separating the growth phases on glucose and lactose, whereas in the ccpA mutant strain this lag phase was reduced to 5 h. The diauxic growth observed with the ptsHS46T mutant was very similar to that of the wild-type strain. By contrast, the lag phase was only about 6 h for the ptsHS46A mutant and in between wild-type and ptsHS46A mutant for the ptsHI47T (10 h).
 A similar gradation was found when the relief from glucose-mediated repression of N-acetyglucosaminidase activity was investigated.
 For the N-acetylglucosaminidase assays, permeabilized L. casei cells were prepared following a previously described method [CHASSY and THOMPSON, J. Bacteriol., 154, 1195-1203, (1983)]. The N-acetylglucosaminidase assays were carried out at 37° C. in a volume of 250 μl containing 10 mM potassium phosphate, pH 6.8, 1 mM MgCl2, 5 mM p-nitrophenyl N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminide (SIGMA) and 5 μl of permeabilized cells. The reaction was stopped with 250 μl of 5% Na2CO3 and the OD420 was measured. Protein concentrations were determined with the BIO-RAD dye-binding assay.
FIG. 4 shows the effect of the various ptsH mutations on CCR of N-acetylglucosaminidase. The N-acetylglucosaminidase activities expressed in nmoles of product formed per min and mg of protein and determined in the L. casei wild-type (wt) and the ccpA, ptsH1 (S46A), ptsH2 (S46T) and ptsH3 (I47T) mutant strains grown in MRS basal medium containing 0.5% glucose or ribose are presented.
 Whereas high activity of this enzyme could be measured in ribose-grown wild-type cells, glucose was found to inhibit its activity about 10-fold. Similar as in the ccpA mutant, the repressive effect of glucose on N-acetylglucosaminidase had completely disappeared in the ptsHS46A mutant. Inhibition of N-acetylglucosaminidase activity by the presence of glucose in the growth medium was also clearly diminished in the two other ptsH mutants (about 2-fold inhibition in the ptsHI47T mutant and 2.5-fold inhibition in the ptsHS46T mutant), confirming the importance of Ser-46 phosphorylation of HPr and of the amino acids in the vicinity of Ser-46 for CCR in L. casei.
 Therefore, these two tests indicated that there was a remarkable and progressive loss of catabolite repression in the different mutants:wild-type<ptsH2<ptsH3<ptsH1<ccpA.
 The ptsH Mutations Affect Inducer Exclusion in L. casei
 When L. casei wild-type cells were grown in a medium containing glucose and either ribose or maltose, a diauxic growth behaviour similar to that obtained with cells growing in the presence of glucose and lactose was observed. However, whereas the lag time of the diauxic growth in the presence of glucose and lactose was not or only partly reduced in the ptsH mutants, the diauxic growth completely disappeared when the ptsH strains were grown in a medium containing glucose and either maltose or ribose. These results suggested that phosphorylation of HPr at Ser-46 plays an important role in regulation of the utilization of these two non-PTS sugars by L. casei.
 In order to distinguish whether this effect was mediated via interaction of the CcpA/P-Ser-HPr complex with cre sequences or via interaction of P-Ser-HPr with a sugar permease according to the proposed mechanism of inducer exclusion [YE et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 91, 3102-3106, (1994); YE et al., J. Bacteriol., 176, 3484-3492, (1994); YE and SAIER, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 92, 417-421, (1995); YE and SAIER, J. Bacteriol., 177, 1900-1902, (1995)], sugar transport experiments were performed.
 Cells were grown to mid-exponential phase in MRS fermentation broth containing 0.5% of the indicated sugars. Subsequently, glucose was added to a final concentration of 0.5% and cells were grown for a further 30 min to allow the synthesis of the glucose-specific PTS transport proteins. Cells were washed twice with 50 mM sodium phosphate buffer, pH 7, containing 10 mM MgCl2 and resuspended in 50 mM Tris-maleate buffer, pH 7.2, containing 5 mM MgCl2. Transport assays were carried out in 1 ml of this latter buffer containing 1% peptone and 0.6 mg of cells (dry weight) Samples were preincubated for 5 min at 37° C. prior to adding [14C]-labelled sugars (0.5 mCi/mmol, ISOTOPCHIM, Ganagobie-Peyruis, France) to a final concentration of 1 mM. Samples of 100 μl were withdrawn at different time intervals, rapidly filtered through 0.45 μm pore-size filters, washed twice with 5 ml of cold Tris-maleate buffer and the radioactivity retained was determined by liquid scintillation counting.
FIG. 5 shows the effect of glucose and 2-deoxy-D-glucose on maltose and ribose uptake by wild-type and ptsH mutant cells. Ribose transport by the L. casei wild-type strain BL23 was measured in the absence and presence of glucose and 2-deoxy-D-glucose (A). Maltose transport in the absence and presence of glucose or 2-deoxy-D-glucose was determined in the L. casei wild-type strain BL23 (B), the ptsH1 mutant BL121 (C), the ptsH2 mutant BL122 (D), the ptsH3 mutant BL123 (E) and the ptsI mutant BL126 (F). The symbols represent: squares, ribose or maltose uptake in the absence of other sugars; diamonds, ribose or maltose uptake with glucose (10 mM final concentration) added after 10 or 4 min, respectively; circles, ribose or maltose uptake with 2-deoxy-D-glucose (10 mM final concentration) added after 10 or 4 min, respectively; triangles, the cells were incubated for 10 min in the presence of 20 mM glucose before the maltose uptake reaction was started.
 The uptake of ribose by ribose-grown L. casei wild-type cells is shown in FIG. 5A. The addition of glucose to ribose-transporting wild-type cells caused no inhibition of ribose uptake but instead increased the transport about four-fold. The addition of the glucose analogue 2-deoxy-D-glucose completely abolished ribose uptake. It is most likely that the depletion of energy caused by the transport and accumulation of the non-metabolizable glucose analogue is responsible for the inhibitory effect of 2-deoxy-D-glucose on ribose transport.
 In contrast to the stimulatory effect exerted by glucose on ribose uptake, maltose transport was found to be instantaneously arrested when glucose or 2-deoxyglucose was added to L. casei wild-type cells transporting maltose. Maltose uptake was also completely abolished when glucose or 2-deoxyglucose was added to the cell suspension 10 minutes before the addition of maltose (FIG. 5B). The ptsH1 (S46AHPr) mutant showed a completely different behaviour to the wild type strain (FIG. 5C). Maltose uptake in this strain was slightly higher, and the addition of glucose caused a further increase of the maltose transport rate. A similar, but less pronounced stimulatory effect of glucose on maltose transport no change of the maltose transport rate following glucose addition was observed for the ptsH3 (I47THPr) mutant (FIG. 5E). In the ptsI mutant BL126, which is unable to transport glucose and 2-deoxy-D-glucose via the PTS, the presence of glucose exerted no inhibitory effect on maltose uptake (FIG. 5F).
 The measure of glucose uptake in the ptsI mutant BL126 shows that glucose is transported 10-times slower than the wild-type strain (data not shown). A slower glucose uptake and metabolism is most likely responsible for the failure of glucose to elicit inducer exclusion in the ptsI mutant strain. By contrast, in a ccpA mutant strain, glucose exerts an inhibitory effect on maltose uptake identical to that observed with the wild-type strain. This result clearly establishes that CcpA is not involved in glucose-triggered maltose exclusion.
 To make sure that growing the cells for 30 min in glucose-containing medium had no drastic effect on expression of the maltose genes, inducer exclusion experiments were carried out with cells which had not been exposed to glucose. Under these conditions, addition of glucose to maltose transporting cells exerts a strong inhibitory effect on maltose uptake in the wild-type and ccpA mutant strains, although maltose continues to be slowly taken up by these cells after the addition of glucose. By contrast, the presence of glucose completely arrests maltose uptake by cells which have been grown on glucose for 30 min. However, with the ptsH1, ptsH2 and ptsH3 mutants grown only on maltose, glucose exerts no inhibitory effect at all on maltose uptake, clearly establishing that the failure of glucose to inhibit maltose transport in the ptsH mutant strains is not related to pregrowing the cells in glucose-containing medium.
 The observed inhibition of maltose transport could have been due to elevated secretion of maltose fermentation products when glucose was added to wild-type cells. In the ptsH mutants, this glucose effect might have been less pronounced. To exclude this possibility, we also measured sugar consumption by resting cells which had been grown on maltose and for the last 30 min before harvesting the cells on maltose and glucose. In order to follow the sugar consumption by the L. casei wild-type and ptsH1 mutant strains, cells were grown and harvested as described for the transport studies and 18 mg of cells (dry weight) were resuspended in 5 ml of 50 mM sodium phosphate buffer, pH 7. After a 5 min incubation at 37° C., maltose and glucose were added to a final concentration of 0.04 and 0.2%, respectively. Samples of 300 μl were withdrawn at different time intervals, boiled for 10 min and clarified by centrifugation. The sugar content in the supernatant was determined with a coupled spectrophotometric test using α-glucosidase and hexokinase/glucose-6-P dehydrogenase as recommended by the supplier (BOEHRINGER-MANNHEIM, Germany).
FIG. 6 shows maltose consumption by resting cells of the L. casei wild-type strain BL23 and the ptsH1 mutant BL121 in the presence or absence of glucose. The symbols represent: squares, maltose concentration in the medium in experiments without glucose; diamonds, maltose concentration and circles, glucose concentration in the medium when glucose was added three minutes after the experiment had been started.
 The results presented in FIG. 6A confirm that maltose is not utilised in the presence of glucose by L. casei wild-type cells. Maltose consumption stopped immediately when glucose was added and the maltose concentration remained constant in the medium as long as glucose was present. Maltose consumption re-started only when glucose, had completely disappeared from the medium. By contrast, the addition of glucose to ptsH1 mutant cells taking up maltose caused only a short transient inhibition of maltose consumption, which was followed by the simultaneous utilization of both sugars (FIG. 6B). Reduced uptake of glucose by the ptsH1 mutant does not seem to be responsible for the absence of the inhibitory effect of glucose, as in this strain glucose was utilized sligthly faster compared to the wild-type strain. These results suggest that phosphorylation of Ser-46 in HPr is necessary for the exclusion of maltose from L. casei cells by glucose and probably other rapidly metabolisable carbon sources and that P-Ser-HPr plays an important role in the regulatory phenomenon called inducer exclusion [YE et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 91, 3102-3106, (1994); YE et al., J. Bacteriol., 176, 3484-3492, (1994); YE and SAIER, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 92, 417-421, (1995); YE and SAIER, J. Bacteriol., 177, 1900-1902, 1995)].
 Strains, Plasmids and Culture Conditions
 The L. casei strain ATCC 393, cured of plasmid pLZ15, and the mutant strains ccpA::erm [MONEDERO et al., J. Bacteriol., 179, 6657-6664, (1997)], ptsH1 (Ser46Ala) and ptsH2 (Ser46Thr) were used. Bacteria were grown under static conditions at 37° C. in MRS medium (DIFCO Laboratories, Detroit, Mich.) or MRS fermentation medium (SCHARLAU S. A., Barcelona, Spain). For diauxic growth experiments, L. casei strains were pregrown in an overnight culture of MRS basal medium containing in 1 l: polypeptone, 10 g; meat extract, 10 g; yeast extract, 5 g (all from Difco Laboratories); K2HPO4.3H2O, 2 g; sodium acetate, 5 g; dibasic ammonium citrate, 2 g; MgSO4, 0.1 g; MnSO4, 0.05 g, TWEEN 80, 1 ml and glucose, 5 g. The overnight culture was used to inoculate 30 ml fresh basal medium containing 0.05% glucose and either 0.05% lactose or 0.05% maltose at an OD550=0.05. the inoculated medium was subsequently incubated at 37° C. Samples of 1 ml were withdrawn at the indicated time intervals to follow growth by measuring the OD550.
Escherichia coli NM522 (APPLIGENE ONCOR LIFESCREEN, Watford, UK) was grown with shaking at 37° C. in Luria-Bertani (LB) medium. Standard cloning procedures were carried out with E. coli NM522 cells, and transformed bacteria were plated on solid media containing 1.5% agar. The antibiotic concentrations for selecting E. coli transformants were 100 μg per ml ampicillin or 25 μg per ml kanamycin and 5 μg per ml erythromycin for the selection of L. casei integrants.
 The plasmids used in this study were pBC KS+ (STRATAGENE, La Jolla, Calif.), pQE30 (QIAGEN, Chatsworth, Calif.) and the integrative vector pRV300.
 Cloning of hprK Gene
 DNA Amplification by PCR
 Polymerase chain reactions (PCR) aimed to obtain fragments of the L. casei hprK gene were carried out with Taq DNA polymerase (APPLIGENE) by using chromosomal L. casei DNA as a template and one of the following pairs of oligonucleotides: i)
 ohprKLc1 (5′-GGNRTNGGNAARAGYGARAC-3′)
 ohprKLc2 (5′-RAARTTNCCCCANCGNCC-3′) ii)
 ohprKLc3 (5′-ATAAAGCTTGARMTGACNGGNTAYTTYRAYTWYTA-3′);
 ohprKLc4 (5′-ATTGAAAAGAGCTCGGATTAAGTGCT-3′).
 ohprKLc3 and ohprXLc4 contain restriction sites for HindIII and SacI, respectively, which are indicated in italics.
 Oligonucleotide ohprKLc4 corresponds to the sequence located 9- 35 bp downstream of the hprK stop codon. The C at position 10 of this sequence was replaced with an A and the A in position 12 with a C to allow the creation of the SacI site. To exclude errors introduced by PCR, each DNA fragment was amplified in at least two independent experiments, cloned into pBC KS+(STRATAGENE) (cut with EcoRV or HindIII and SacI) providing plasmids pHKLc1 and pHKLc2, respectively, and sequenced on a PERKIN ELMER ABIPRISM 373 automated sequencer. The fragment of the hprK gene in pHKLc1 was oriented in the same direction as the lacZ fragment.
 By using these two primers and L. casei DNA as a template, a 879 bp fragment could be amplified by PCR. The PCR fragment was cloned into pBC KS+ digested with EcoRV providing plasmid pHKLc1 and the insert was sequenced. Analysis of the sequence data suggested that the PCR fragment encodes the 162 C-terminal amino acids of HprK and the 129 N-terminal amino acids of Lgt.
 To obtain part of the missing sequence of the presumed L. casei hprK, a PCR was carried out using L. casei DNA as a template and the oligonucleotides ohprKLc3, and ohprKLc4. The obtained 875 bp PCR fragment was digested with HindIII and SacI and was cloned into pBC KS+ cut with the same enzymes providing plasmid pHKLc2. DNA sequencing and comparison with known HprK sequences suggested that the amplified DNA fragment encodes amino acids 40 to 319 of L. casei HprK.
 Construction of a L. casei hprK Mutant and Cloning of the Entire hprK
 A point mutation was introduced into the hprK gene of L. casei by replacing the leucine-encoding codon 208 (with respect to the complete hprK gene) with an amber codon.
 A PCR was carried out using plasmid pHKLc2 as a template and the two oligonucleotides:
 ohprKLc5 (5′-CCCCTCGAGGTCGACGGTATGGATAAGCTTGA-3′);
 which contains part of the multiple cloning site of pHKLc2 including a SaIl restriction site (in italics) and a replacement of the C in position 21 by a G (underlined) destroying the ClaI site and :
 ohprKLc6 (5′-CATGACATCGATAATGCCCTAGCCACGAATTTC-3′).
 Oligonucleotide ohprKLc6 is based on the DNA sequence from position 610 to 643 of L. casei hprK containing a ClaI site (in italics). In position 20 of ohprKLc6, a T is present instead of an A, changing the leucine-encoding TTG triplet (in position 208 of hprK) to an amber codon (underlined).
 The resulting 522 bp PCR fragment was digested with SaIl and ClaI and cloned into pHKLc1 cut with the same enzymes, thus providing pHKLc3 containing the 3′ part of hprK with the amber mutation and the 5′ part of lgt. Plasmid pHKLc3 was digested with HindIII and SacI and the resulting 1312 bp fragment was cloned into the integrative vector pRV300 cut with the same enzymes to give the 4.8 kb plasmid pHKLc2O8(Am).
 Erythromycin-resistant L. casei clones were obtained. In eight clones, the integration of pHKLc208(Am) was tested by Southern blots using as a probe a 590 bp internal hprK fragment. Only one HindIII fragment of 5.2 kb could be detected with DNA from wild-type L. casei ATCC 393, whereas seven of the eight erythromycin-resistant clones gave two bands with a size of 3.6 and 6.5 kb (data not shown), suggesting that plasmid pHKLc208(Am), which contains a single HindIII site, had been integrated in the chromosome of these transformants. In the remaining eighth erythromycin-resistant clone, two copies of pHKLc208(Am) seemed to be integrated in tandem, as three fragments of 3.6, 6.5 and 4.8 kb could be detected on the Southern blot.
 Campbell-like recombination of pHKLc208(Am) with the L. casei chromosome can occur at two different sites with respect to the position of the PCR-introduced amber codon, giving rise to two types of integrants exhibiting either an HprK− or HprK+ phenotype.
 One of the mutants in which the presence of the hprK208(Am) mutation has been confirmed by DNA sequencing of appropriate PCR products was named LcG102 and used for further studies. Chromosomal DNA of LcG102 was isolated, digested with HindIII, religated, transformed into E. coli NM522 and 3 ampicillin-resistant clones were chosen for further experiments. The plasmids present in the 3 clones were purified and found to carry an about 3.2 kb insert. DNA sequencing of the plasmid pHKLcUS from one of the transformants revealed that the insert contained in addition to the insert of pHKLc208(Am) the 5′ part of the presumed hprK, its promoter region and two complete and one incomplete ORF located upstream of hprK (FIG. 1). The proteins encoded by these three ORF's exhibited 23, 22 and 36% sequence identity, respectively, when compared to the proteins encoded by the B. subtilis yvIB, yvlC and yvID genes [KUNST et al., Nature, 390, 249-256, (1997)].
 The presumed L. casei hprK gene consists of 957 bp and encodes a protein of 35349 Da composed of 319 amino acids, which exhibits 50% sequence identity when compared to B. subtilis HprK. As in all other known HprK, the A-motif of nucleotide binding proteins (GX4GKS) is present around position 160. The presumed hprK gene starts with an ATG, which is preceded by a putative ribosome binding site (AAGAAAGG) located 8 bp upstream of the start codon. Downstream of hprK and separated from hprK by only 1 bp begins the lgt gene. The cloned lgt fragment encodes the first 129 amino acids of L. casei Lgt which exhibit 53% sequence identity when compared to the corresponding N-terminal part of B. subtilis Lgt.
L. casei HprK is a Bifunctional Enzyme Regulated by FBP and Pi
 In order to confirm that the presumed hprK gene encodes indeed L. casei HprK and to test whether it exhibits both HPr kinase and P-Ser-HPr phosphatase activities similar to the B. subtilis and Enterococcus faecalis enzymes, Histagged L. casei HprK was purified.
 To purify L. casei HprK carrying a His-tag, PCR amplification was carried out using chromosomal L. casei DNA as a template and the two oligonucleotides:
 5′-GTGGGATCCATGGCAGACAGCG-3′ and
 containing a BamHI and a KpnI restriction site, respectively (in italics). The resulting 1033 bp fragment containing the complete hprK gene was cut with BamHI and KpnI and cloned into plasmid pQE30 (QIAGEN) cut with the same restriction enzymes to give pQEHKLc. The correct sequence of the amplified hprK was confirmed by DNA sequencing.
 In order to purify His-tagged L. casei HprK, E. coli strain M15[pREP4] (QIAGEN) was transformed with plasmid pQEHKLc. A resulting transformant was isolated and grown in 1 l of LB medium (DIFCO) at 37° C. until it reached an OD595 of about 0.7. Subsequently, expression was induced by addition of 1 mM IPTG. Cells were grown for an additional 3 h before they were centrifuged, washed twice with 100 mM Tris-HCl buffer, pH 7.4, and broken by sonication (BRANSON SONIFIER 251). Cell debris was removed by centrifugation and the resulting supernatant was loaded onto a Ni-NTA-agarose column (QIAGEN) equilibrated with buffer A (50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.4, 15% glycerol and 50 mM Na2SO4). After washing with 30 mM imidazole, HprK was eluted with the equilibration buffer containing 300 mM imidazole. HprK-containing fractions were pooled, dialyzed against 50 mM Tris-HCl buffer, pH 7.4, containing 0.1 mM DTT and 0.1 mM PMSF and subsequently stored at −80° C.
 His-tagged B. subtilis and its seryl-phosphorylated derivative were prepared as described in [GALINIER et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95, 1823-1828, (1998)]. For the preparation of P-Ser-HPr, HPr kinase present for 5 min at 65° C. once the phosphorylation reaction was terminated. To completely remove ATP and FBP from the P-Ser-HPr preparation it was desalted on a 10 ml SEPHADEX G-10 column. His-tagged B. subtilis HprK was overproduced and purified as described in [GALINIER et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95, 1823-1828, (1998)], and B. subtilis Ser-46-Ala mutant HPr was obtained as described in [EISERMANN et al., J. Biol. Chem., 263, 17050-17054, (1998)].
 Using HPr(His)6 ′ or P-Ser-HPr(His)6 from B. subtilis as substrates, HprK of L. casei was indeed found to be bifunctional.
 The effects of FBP and inorganic phosphate (Pi) on HPr kinase and P-Ser-HPr phosphatase activities of purified L. casei HprK(His)6 were measured. The assay mixtures contained in a total volume of 20 μl 0.005, 0.02 or 0.05 μg HprK(His)6, 5 MM MgCl2, 50 mM Tris-Hcl, pH 7.4 and in addition for the kinase assay 2.5 μg B. subtilis P-Ser-Hpr(His)6 and varying concentrations of sodium phosphate and were incubated for 5 min at 37° C. The reactions were stopped by heating the assay mixtures for 5 min at 65° C. Equal volumes of sample buffer were added to the assay mixtures before separating HPr and P-Ser-HPr on a 12.5% non-denaturating polyacrylamide gel.
 ATP-dependent HPr phosphorylation was slightly stimulated by FBP at concentrations higher than 1 mM, whereas the P-Ser-HPr phosphatase activity was clearly stimulated by 0.2 mM and higher concentrations of Pi. Stimulation of ATPdependent HPr phosphorylation by FBP was more evident when the HPr kinase assays were carried out in the presence of Pi. With 1 mM Pi, no HPr phosphorylation could be observed in the absence of FBP, whereas in the presence of 20 mM FBP a strong HPr kinase activity could be detected. When using 8 mM Pi, FBP had almost completely lost its stimulating effect on HPr phosphorylation. HprK-catalyzed phosphorylation occurs at Ser-46 of HPr, as B. subtilis Ser-46-Ala mutant HPr was not phosphorylated by the L. casei HprK.
 HPr kinase and P-Ser-HPr phosphatase activities were determined in crude extracts of L. casei wild-type and pHKLc208(Am) integrants.
 Cells were grown in 10 ml MRS medium, harvested by centrifugation and washed twice with 50 mM Tris-HCl buffer, pH 7.4. The pellet was resuspended in 800 μl of the same buffer, cells were broken by sonication (BRANSON SONIFIER 250) and cell debris was removed by centrifugation.
 To demonstrate HPr kinase activity in L. casei crude extracts, ATP-dependent phosphorylation assays were carried out in the presence or absence of 1.5 μg B. subtilis HPr(His)6 in a total volume of 20 μl containing 5 μl crude extract, 25 μM [γ-32P]ATP (0.5 μCi), 10 mM MgCl2, 50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.4 and 20 mM FBP. The phosphorylation reaction was stopped by adding an equal volume of sample buffer [LAEMMLI, Nature, 227, 680-685, (1970)] to the assay mixtures before loading them onto a 15% polyacrylamide gel containing 0.1% SDS. After electrophoresis, gels were treated for 5 min with boiling 16% trichloroacetic acid before they were dried and exposed to autoradiography (BIOMAX MR, Kodak). Control experiments were carried out with 0.5 μg of purified B. subtilis HprK(His)6 and 1.5 μg HPr(His)6.
 No HPr kinase activity was detected in crude extracts of hprK208(Am) mutant strain.
 To test whether this mutant was also devoid of P-Ser-HPr phosphatase activity, crude extracts of L. casei wild-type and the hprK208(Am) mutant strain were prepared and their capacity to dephosphorylate P-Ser-HPr was assayed in the presence of 20 mM Pi.
 P-Ser-HPr phosphatase assays were carried out by incubating a 20 μl assay mixture containing 10 μl crude extract, 2.5 μg B. subtilis P-Ser-HPr(His)6, 20 mM sodium phosphate, pH 7.2, 10 MM MgCl2 and 50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.4, for 10 min at 37° C. The dephosphorylation reaction was stopped by heat inactivation at 65° C. for 5 min. An equal volume of sample buffer was added to the assay mixtures before separating HPr and P-Ser-HPr on a 12.5% non-denaturing polyacrylamide gel.
 Whereas P-Ser-HPr phosphates activity could be easily seen with crude extracts of the wild type strain, no activity could be detected with this test in crude extracts of the hprK208(Am) mutant LcG102. Even increasing the incubation time from 10 to 30 min did not allow to detect dephosphorylated HPr in the P-Ser-HPr phosphatase assay with crude extracts of the hprK208(Am) mutant.
 The hprK208(Am) Mutation Affects CCR
 To determine whether similar to B. subtilis HprK, L. casei HprK is also involved in CCR, the repressive effect of glucose on N-acetylglucosaminidase activity was measured in the hprK208(Am) mutant and compared to the activity found in wild-type and ccpA and ptsH1 mutant strains.
 Wild-type and ccpA, ptsH1 and hprK208(Am) mutant cells were grown in 10 ml MRS fermentation medium to an OD595 between 0.7 and 0.9, centrifuged and washed twice with 10 mM sodium phosphate buffer, pH 7.2. Permeabilized L. casei cells were obtained as described in [CHASSY et al., J. Bacteriol., 154, 1195-1203, (1983)]. To measure N-acetylglucosaminidase activity, a 500 Al assay mixture containing 10 μl de permeabilized cells, 10 mM sodium phosphate, pH 6.8, 1 mM MgCl2 and 5 mM p-nitrophenyl-N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminide (SIGMA) was incubated for 10 min at 37° C. The reaction was stopped with 500 μl of 5% Na2CO3, and the OD420 was measured.
 In the wild-type strain ATCC 393, N-acetylglucosaminidase activity was repressed 18-fold by the presence of glucose, whereas N-acetylglucoaminidase activity was derepressed in ribose-grown cells (Table 2). Similar as in L. casei ccpA or ptsH1 mutants CCR of N-acetylglucosaminidase activity was strongly diminished in the hprK208(Am) mutant LcG102 (Table 2).
 The hprK208(Am) Mutation Affects Diauxic Growth
 Growth of the hprK208(Am) mutant LcG102 in MRS medium containing 0.05% glucose and either 0.05% lactose or 0.05% maltose was compared to the growth behaviour of the wild-type strain ATCC 393. Wild-type L. casei grown in media containing mixtures of glucose and lactose or glucose and maltose exhibited a diauxic growth curve characterized by two distinct growth phases separated by a lag phase of about 8 h for cell-s growing on glucose/lactose and 7 h for cells growing on glucose/maltose medium. In the hprK208(Am) mutant LcG102, the lag phase was reduced to less than 3 h for cells grown in either glucose and lactose- or glucose and maltose-containing medium.
 The hprK208(Am) Mutation Prevents the Exclusion of Maltose by Alucose
 It is shown above that replacement of Ser-46 in L. casei HPr with alanine or threonine or replacement of Ile-47 with threonine prevents the exclusion of maltose by glucose. To ensure that the observed effect of the ptsH mutations is indeed due to the absence of ATP-dependent, HprK-catalyzed phosphorylation of HPr in the ptsH mutants and not due to structural changes of HPr caused by the mutations, we studied glucose-triggered maltose exclusion in the hprK208(Am) mutant strain LcG102. Maltose uptake by wild-type cells was instantaneously arrested when glucose was added to the transport medium. By contrast, when an identical experiment was carried out with the hprK208(Am) mutant LcG102, maltose uptake was not inhibited but rather slightly stimulated by the presence of glucose. The absence of glucose-triggered maltose exclusion in the hprK208(Am) mutant was confirmed by measuring maltose consumption in the presence and absence of 0.15% glucose with L. casei wild-type and hprK208(Am) mutant strains. In the wild-type strain, maltose was not utilized as long as glucose was present in the growth medium, whereas maltose and glucose were simultaneously consumed by the hprK208(Am) mutant LcG102 .
 Food grade mutants of ptsI or ccpA genes were constructed in the industrial strain of L. paracasei subsp. paracasei CNCM I-1518; this strain is disclosed in EP 0 794 707.
 Construction of a ptsI Mutant
 This mutant was constructed using the method of Example 2.
 Plasmid pVMR10 was used to transform L. casei CNCM I-1518.
 The transformed strain was grown in MRS medium comprising 5 μg/ml erythromycin. An erythromycin-resistant ptsI+ integrant was isolated. This integrant was grown for 200 generations in MRS medium without erythromycin to allow the second recombination leading to the excision of the pVMR10 plasmid.
 An erythromycin-sensitive Lac clone was isolated as disclosed by Example 2 above, checked by PCR and its ptsI gene sequenced. The fermentation pattern of this clone in API-CH50L showed that, when compared to the wild type CNCM I-1518, this mutant could no longer use adonitol, fructose, mannose, sorbose, mannitol, sorbitol, amygdaline, arbutine, salicine, cellobiose, sucrose and trehalose.
 This mutant was grown at 37° C. in low-fat milk (13 g fat/kg) or skim milk. In skim milk, a pH of 4.45 was reached after 34 h (under the same conditions a pH of 4.45 was reached after 30 h with the wild-type strain CNCM I-1518).
 In another series of tests, standardized milk having 170 g protein/kg, 13 g fat/kg, and supplemented with 50 g glucose/kg was used.
 The fermented products obtained from standardized milk supplemented with glucose with the mutant strain ptsI have a gel-strength lower of about 15-25% than the fermented products obtained from the wild-type strain. This allows to obtain a more elastic gel of about 15-25% and to reduce syneresis.
 They also have a slightly lower viscosity than the fermented products obtained with the wild-type strain. However, the loss of viscosity under shearing is less important in the case of the products obtained with the mutant strain. This property allows a better conservation of the texture during industrial processes wherein shearing may occur, such as the preparation of stirred fermented milk.
 The fermented products obtained with the mutant strain had a more creamy flavour than the fermented products obtained with the wild-type strain. This is related to a higher content in C4, C6, C8, C12, C14, and C16 fatty acids.
 Construction of a ccpA Mutant
 Mutants in L. casei BL23 and CNCM I-1518 were constructed with the following procedure:
 Plasmid pJDC9 [CHEN and MORRISON, Gene, 64, 155-164, (1998)] carrying a SalI restriction fragment of 2.6 kb that included ccpA gene and flanking regions, was digested with EcoRI, made blunt end (filled in with the Klenow enzyme), ligated and transformed in E. coli DH5α. This plasmid (pJ-δccpA) was used to transform both L. casei strains.
 The transformed strains were grown in MRS medium comprising 5 μg/ml erythromycin and erythromycin-resistant integrants were isolated.
 Then, one integrant of each transformation event was grown for 200 generations in MRS medium without erythromycin leading to the excision of the plasmid. Erythromycin-sensitive colonies showing slower growth were screened by PCR amplification of ccpA, followed by digestion with EcoRI. Strains where the amplified fragment was not digested by EcoRI were further analysed by sequencing the ccpA gene. Sequencing of the ccpA mutant gene showed that an insertion of four nucleotides (AATT) had occurred at position 710 of the sequence U28137 of GENBANK. This insertion generated a stop codon 5 codons after the mutation site and resulted in a truncated CcpA protein of 143 amino acids that is inactive.
 When this mutant was grown at 37° C. in skim milk, a pH of 4.45 was reached after 45 h.
 The fermented products obtained with the mutant strain from standardized milk supplemented with glucose had a content in acetic acid, succinic acid, and formic acic twice higher than the fermented products obtained from the wild-type strain. They also contained the same quantity of lactate than the products obtained from the wild-type strain. They contained less citrate, due to a citrate consumption by the ccpA mutant 10 times higher than by the wild-type strain.
 They had also a higher content in acetoin (4 to 6 times higher) than the fermented products obtained from the wild-type strain.
 The overproduction of acetoin by the ccpA mutant indicates that it is potentially able to overproduce diacetyl under appropriate conditions (i.e. oxidative conditions which promotes the conversion of α-acetolactate into diacetyl rather than into acetoin).
 The ptsI and ccpA mutants of Example 5 were grown as described above on standardized milk supplemented with glucose until a pH of about 4.55.
 The fermented milks thus obtained are stored at 4° C., 8° C., or 13° C., and the pH is measured after 7, 14, 21, or 28 days of storage.
FIG. 7 represents the post-acidification during storage at different temperatures for fermented milks obtained with the wild-type strain or with the ccpA or ptsI mutant.
 Legend of FIG. 7:
 ——: wild type strain 4° C.
 —▴—: wild type strain 8° C.
 —♦—: wild type strain 13° C.
 —∘—: ccpA mutant 4° C.
 —Δ—: ccpA mutant 8° C.
 —⋄—: ccpA mutant 13° C.
 ——: ptsI mutant 4° C.
 —▴—: ptsI mutant 8° C.
 —♦—: ptsI mutant 13° C.
 These results show that in every case, the. ccpA and ptsI mutants have a reduced post-acidification compared with the wild-type strain.
 This reduced post-acidification is not due to a lower survival of the mutant strains. This was controlled by measuring the survival rate at 28 days. It is higher than 60% for the ccpA and ptsI mutants as well as for the wild-type strain.