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Appl Environ Microbiol. Aug 1985; 50(2): 298–303.
PMCID: PMC238619

Destruction of the outer membrane permeability barrier of Escherichia coli by heat treatment.


Heat treatment of a wild-type Escherichia coli strain at 55 degrees C in 50 mM Tris-hydrochloride buffer with or without 10 mM magnesium sulfate or HEPES (N-2-hydroxyethylpiperazine-N'-2-ethanesulfonic acid) buffer at pH 8.0 caused an increase in cell surface hydrophobicity. By determining the location of n-hexadecane droplets attached to cells by phase-contrast microscopy, the septal and polar regions of heated cells appeared to become the most frequently hydrophobic. Some of the lipopolysaccharide molecules in the outer membrane were released from heated cells, and the cells became susceptible to the hydrolytic action of added phospholipase C. Heat-treated cells also became permeable to the hydrophobic dye crystal violet, which was added externally. The release of part of the outer membrane by heat treatment appeared to bring about the disorganization of the outer membrane structure and, as a consequence, to result in the partial disruption of the permeability barrier function of the outer membrane. Tris was found to enhance damage to the outer membrane by heat.

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Selected References

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