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Can J Microbiol. 1988 Mar;34(3):256-61.

Controlled lysis of bacterial cells utilizing mutants with defective synthesis of D-alanine.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Nebraska, Lincolon 68588.


An alanine racemase (EC mutant (Dal-) of Bacillus subtilis required small amounts of D-alanine to synthesize an osmotically stable cell wall in certain growth media. Investigation of the conditions which caused lysis in hypotonic media revealed that in addition to complex media, such as nutrient broth and acid-hydrolyzed casein, glycine inhibited stable cell wall formation. D-Alanine prevented the glycine inhibition. Up to 99% lysis occurred in both dilute and dense cell suspensions (optical densities up to 110) within 2.5 h after adding 1% glycine to late log phase cultures. Intracellular enzymes recovered from the lysate were as active as those from lysozyme-disrupted cells. No amino acid tested other than glycine induced lysis. Dal- mutants can be used for controlled lysis of bacterial cells to facilitate the isolation of normal intracellular constituents and bioengineered products from fermentation processes. Cell walls of most bacteria contain D-alanine; thus, this strategy should be applicable to a wide variety of microorganisms.

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