Mixed rumen micro-organisms, maintained in continuous culture readily incorporated labelled HCO3- and acetate into amino acids. Labelled propionate, in contrast, was utilized only for isoleucine biosynthesis, but failed to label other amino acids to any significant extent. Evidence was obtained showing that in these mixed, i.e. symbiotic, cultures foward tricarboxylic acid-cycle reactions only proceed to 2-oxoglutarate. 14C distribution in amino acids clearly shows that 2-oxoglutarate is not oxidized further by tricarboxylic acid-cycle enzymes. Instead, acetate is carboxylated to pyruvate which is then carboxylated to oxaloacetate. Oxaloacetate equilibrates with fumarate and thereby carbon atoms 1 and 4 as well as carbon atoms 2 and 3 are randomized. Evidence was also obtained for the carboxylation of propionate to 2-oxobutyrate, isovalerate to 4-methyl-2-oxopentanoate, phenylacetate and hydroxyphentlacetate to the corresponding phenyl- and hydroxyphenyl-pyruvic acids and succinate to 2-oxoglutarate. Of the amino acid precursors investigated, only 3-hydroxypyruvate, the precursor of serine, appeared to be synthesized via an oxidative step, i.e. 3-phosphoglyceric acid to 3-phosphohydroxypyruvic acid. Most 2-oxo precursors of amino acids in these organisms appear to be formed via reductive carboxylation of the precursor acid.

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