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J Bacteriol. Sep 1986; 167(3): 1077–1080.
PMCID: PMC215985

Induction of autolysis in nongrowing Escherichia coli.


Unless relaxation of the stringent response is achieved, all nongrowing bacteria rapidly develop resistance to autolysis induced by a variety of agents, including all classes of cell wall synthesis inhibitors. We now describe inhibitors of cell wall synthesis which were unusual in that they could continue to effectively induce autolysis in relA+ Escherichia coli even after prolonged amino acid starvation. The process of cell wall degradation seems to be catalyzed by similar hydrolytic enzymes in nongrowing and growing cells, yet the activity of these new agents capable of inducing autolysis in the nongrowing relA+ cells did not involve relaxation of RNA or peptidoglycan synthesis. We propose that the suppression of autolysis characteristic of nongrowing cells can be bypassed by a novel mechanism of autolytic triggering which is independent of the relA locus.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Dougherty TJ. Analysis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae peptidoglycan by reverse-phase, high-pressure liquid chromatography. J Bacteriol. 1985 Jul;163(1):69–74. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Goodell W, Tomasz A. Alteration of Escherichia coli murein during amino acid starvation. J Bacteriol. 1980 Dec;144(3):1009–1016. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kitano K, Tomasz A. Triggering of autolytic cell wall degradation in Escherichia coli by beta-lactam antibiotics. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1979 Dec;16(6):838–848. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kusser W, Ishiguro EE. Involvement of the relA gene in the autolysis of Escherichia coli induced by inhibitors of peptidoglycan biosynthesis. J Bacteriol. 1985 Nov;164(2):861–865. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Pisabarro AG, de Pedro MA, Vázquez D. Structural modifications in the peptidoglycan of Escherichia coli associated with changes in the state of growth of the culture. J Bacteriol. 1985 Jan;161(1):238–242. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Ryter A, Hirota Y, Schwarz U. Process of cellular division in Escherichia coli growth pattern of E. coli murein. J Mol Biol. 1973 Jun 25;78(1):185–195. [PubMed]

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