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Arch Microbiol. 1990;154(1):73-81.

Penicillin-induced changes in the cell wall composition of Staphylococcus aureus before the onset of bacteriolysis.

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Robert Koch-Institute, Federal Health Office, Berlin.


To analyze if chemical cell wall alterations contribute to penicillin-induced bacteriolysis, changes in the amount, stability, and chemical composition of staphylococcal cell walls were investigated. All analyses were performed before onset of bacteriolysis i.e. during the first 60 min following addition of different penicillin G doses. Only a slight reduction of the amount of cell wall material incorporated after penicillin addition at the optimal lytic concentration was observed as compared to control cells. However, the presence of higher penicillin G concentrations reduced the incorporation of wall material progressively without bacteriolysis. Losses of wall material during isolation of dodecylsulfate insoluble cell walls were monitored to assess the stability of the wall material following penicillin addition. Wall material grown at the lytic penicillin concentration was least stable but about 30% of the newly incorporated wall material withstood even the harsh conditions of mechanical breakage and dodecylsulfate treatment. Dodecylsulfate insoluble cell walls were used for chemical analyses. While peptidoglycan chain length was unaffected in the presence of penicillin, other wall parameters were considerably altered: peptide cross-linking was reduced in the wall material synthesized after addition of penicillin; reductions from approx. 85% in controls to about 60% were similar for lytic and also for very high penicillin concentrations leading to nonlytic death. O-acetylation was also reduced after treatment with penicillin; this effect paralleled the occurrence of subsequent bacteriolysis at different drug concentrations.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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