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J Bacteriol. Jan 1969; 97(1): 402–415.
PMCID: PMC249621

Direct Measurement of Acetylesterase in Living Protist Cells1


The fluorogenic acetylesterase (acetic ester hydrolase EC substrate, fluorescein diacetate, was used to measure enzyme activity in living protist cells. The visual enzyme assay was done by monitoring fluorochromasia by fluorescent microscopy. Quantitative fluorogenic assays were done by measuring the evolved fluorescein in a fluorometer. Of 59 strains of bacteria, 35 were fluorochromatically positive. Eight of the fluorochromatically negative strains were fluorogenically positive. Of 22 strains of slime molds and fungi, all were fluorochromatically positive. Three out of 12 different algae were fluorochromatically positive. Several unidentified protozoa were also fluorochromatically positive. Four out of six protozoa were fluorochromatically positive. Structures of special interest showing acetylesterase activity were: the growing hyphal tips of fungi, the vacuolated areas of yeast and protozoa, newly formed bacterial spores or immature fungal spores, “mesosome-like” bodies in Bacillus megaterium, and the cell membrane and nuclear region of green algae. Yeast protoplasts and bacterial protoplasts and spheroplasts were fluorochromatically positive when derived from positive cells and negative when derived from negative cells. There was no correlation between the possession of a capsule and acetylesterase activity. There was no effect on the viability of bacterial cells incubated in the presence of fluorescein diacetate. Paraoxon inhibited bacterial and yeast enzyme at 10−5m. Eserine (10−5m) and Paraoxon (10−7m) inhibited B. megaterium enzyme. Sodium acetate at 10−2m did not inhibit bacterial enzyme. The implications of these findings on the location and expression of esterase activity in living cells are discussed.

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Selected References

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