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J Bacteriol. 1991 Dec;173(23):7684-91.

Amount of peptidoglycan in cell walls of gram-negative bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Cell Biology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The amount of diaminopimelic acid (Dap) in the cell wall of Escherichia coli was measured in two ways. A radiochemical method first described by us in 1985 (F. B. Wientjes, E. Pas, P. E. M. Taschner, and C. L. Woldringh, J. Bacteriol. 164:331-337, 1985) is based on the steady-state incorporation of [3H]Dap during several generations. Knowing the cell concentration and the specific activity of the [3H]Dap, one can calculate the number of Dap molecules per sacculus. The second method measures the Dap content chemically in sacculi isolated from a known number of cells. With both methods, a value of 3.5 x 10(6) Dap molecules per sacculus was obtained. Combined with electron microscopic measurements of the surface area of the cells, the data indicate an average surface area per disaccharide unit of ca. 2.5 nm2. This finding suggests that the peptidoglycan is basically a monolayered structure.

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