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Eur J Biochem. 1987 May 4;164(3):621-4.

Biological role of the pneumococcal amidase. Cloning of the lytA gene in Streptococcus pneumoniae.


A pneumococcal recombinant plasmid, pRG2, containing the lytA gene that codes for the pneumococcal N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase has been constructed using the pneumococcal plasmid pLS1 as a vector. pRG2 was introduced by genetic transformation into a mutant of Streptococcus pneumoniae (M31) that has a complete deletion of the lytA gene. The transformed strain (M51) grew at a normal growth rate as 'diplo' cells and underwent autolysis at the end of the exponential phase of growth, two properties that had been lost in the deleted mutant M31. M51 lysed very rapidly at the end of the exponential phase when the cells were grown in choline-containing medium probably because of the higher level of amidase activity present in this strain as compared to the lysis-prone strain M11. These findings show that the expression of the plasmid-linked gene was placed under the mechanism(s) of control of the cell during the exponential phase. Our results demonstrate that the physiological role of the pneumococcal amidase was to catalyze the separation of the daughter cells at the end of the cell division to produce diplo cells; in addition we have also confirmed the basic role of this autolysin in the bacteriolytic nature of beta-lactam antibiotics.

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