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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Nov 1992; 36(11): 2497–2505.
PMCID: PMC284361

Lesions and preferential initial localization of [S-methyl-3H]bleomycin A2 on Saccharomyces cerevisiae cell walls and membranes.


Extensive lesions were produced in cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisiae by the bleomycin family of anticancer antibiotics (30 min to 4 h). Electron micrographs revealed that the alterations were most frequently large breaks and small interruptions or holes in cell walls, which sometimes extended into cell membranes. Large portions of cell walls were sometimes lost. Cell walls were frequently ruptured in one or more positions. More than 75% of bud scar regions in single-plane sections and all bud scars in serial sections exhibited many interruptions and breaks after 3 or 4 h of treatment. The discovery of extensive damage to cell walls was consistent with the preferential (approximately 70%) association of radiolabeled bleomycin with cell walls and perimeters of bud scar regions after short exposures (30 min). After longer exposures, the distribution of silver grains changed from a predominant association with cell walls (30 min) to an increased association with the cell cytoplasm (1 to 4 h). This correlated with increased ultrastructural damage, since damage to cell walls was generally more frequent and more severe with increasing length of treatment (30 min to 4 h) or dose (25 to 100 micrograms/ml). Although DNA lesions are believed to be the lethal properties of bleomycins, the lesions produced in cell walls are also lethal properties of the antibiotics. The distributions of lesions on cell walls suggested a generalized interaction of the antibiotic with a cell wall component. These results led us to hypothesize a mechanism of effective antifungal action for the bleomycin family of antibiotics.

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