Propionibacterium acnes is a commensal, non-sporulating bacilliform (rod-shaped), gram-positive bacterium found in a variety of locations on the human body including the skin, mouth, urinary tract and areas of the large intestine. P. acnes is most commonly associated with its implicated role as the predominant cause of the common inflammatory skin condition Acne vulgaris. It is primarily anaerobic and has an optimal growing temperature of 37°C.
Higher Order Taxa:
Bacteria; Actinobacteria; Actinobacteridae; Actinomycetales; Propionibacterineae; Propionibacteriaceae; Propionibacterium
- Corynebacterium acnes
- Bacillus acnes
- Corynebacterium acnes (Gilchrist 1900 and Eberson 1918)
- Bacillus acnes (Gilchrist 1900)
The genome of P. acnes has been sequenced in its entirety and has been shown to consists of a single 2.56026 Mbp circular DNA plasmid containing 2351 putative genes coding for 2297 known protein products and constituing a 60% G-C (guanine-cytosine) content.
Cell Structure and Metabolism
P. acnes’ genome codes for a wide variety of metabolic products. Metabolic analysis has shown that P. acnes has the ability to live in anaerobic as well as “microaerobic” conditions. It has the key metabolic requirements to carry out oxidative phosphorylation, Krebs cycle, Embden-Meyerhof pathway and the pentose phosphate pathway. Under in vitro anaerobic conditions, P. acnes can grows permissively on media such as glucose, glycerol, ribose, fructose, mannose and N-acetylglucosamine. In vivo, the bacteria produce various lipases to digest excess skin oil and sebum in the pilosebaceous units (regions that contains the hair follicle and sebaceous gland) of adolescent and adult human skin. For energy P. acnes can employ a fermentative process yielding biproducts like short-chain fatty acids and propionic acid from which it gets its name. In addition to fermatation, P. acnes can utilize various other anaerobic pathways deriving energy with the help of enzymes such as nitrate reductase, dimethyl sulfoxide reductase and fumarate reductase.
P. acnes shares its environment with a variety of different bacteria.
Applications to Biotechnology
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