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Biochem J. 1970 Nov;120(1):159-70.

Cell-wall thickening in Bacillus subtilis. Comparison of thickened and normal walls.


1. Incubation of Bacillus subtilis 168 trp in a glucose-amino acids-salts medium lacking tryptophan leads to an inhibition of cellular growth without affecting cell-wall synthesis. The cell walls increased approximately two- to three-fold in thickness and at the same time the amount of mucopeptide in the cells measured chemically increased to about the same extent. 2. Synthesis of mucopeptide and teichoic acid as measured by the extent of incorporation of radioactivity continued linearly for approximately 1h and then stopped. No reason was found for the strictly limited synthesis of the wall polymers. 3. The initial rates of incorporation of [(32)P]P(i) or [(3)H]alanine into teichoic acid and of (3)H-labelled amino acids into mucopeptide were not appreciably inhibited by the addition of chloramphenicol to the glucose-amino acids-salts medium. 4. There was no selective turnover of the mucopeptide synthesized by the cells in a medium lacking tryptophan on resumption of growth in a complete medium. 5. Wall synthesis taking place during the thickening process was similar to normal wall synthesis proceeding in growing cells. Walls of different thicknesses prepared from cells incubated for various times in incomplete medium did not differ qualitatively in composition. The products of autolysis of thickened walls were isolated and the analyses indicated a close similarity in the details of their mucopeptide structure compared with the mucopeptide of cells growing in the exponential phase.

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