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J Clin Invest. Jul 1986; 78(1): 177–184.
PMCID: PMC329547

Effects of the putative neutrophil-generated toxin, hypochlorous acid, on membrane permeability and transport systems of Escherichia coli.


Titrimetric addition of hypochlorous acid (HOCl) or chloramine (NH2Cl) to suspensions of Escherichia coli decreases their ability to accumulate 14C-labeled glutamine, proline, thiomethylgalactoside, and leucine in a manner that approximately coincides with loss of cell viability; quantitative differences in cellular response are observed with the two oxidants. Inhibition of beta-galactosidase activity in E. coli ML-35, a strain lacking functional lactose permease, is complex and also depends upon the identity of the oxidant. Membrane proton conductivities and glycerol permeabilities are unchanged by addition of HOCl or NH2Cl in excess of that required for inactivation. The combined results are interpreted to indicate that the locus of HOCl attack is the cell envelope, that HOCl inactivation does not occur by loss of membrane structural integrity, that loss of transport function can be identified with either selective oxidative inhibition of the transport proteins or loss of cellular metabolic energy, and that different mechanisms of inactivation may exist for HOCl and NH2Cl.

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