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J Bacteriol. 1970 Aug;103(2):457-66.

Relationship between the location of autolysin, cell wall synthesis, and the development of resistance to cellular autolysis in Streptococcus faecalis after inhibition of protein synthesis.


Ten minutes after inhibition of protein synthesis with chloramphenicol (CAP) the ability of cells of Streptococcus faecalis (ATCC 9790) to autolyze decreased to less than 20% of the rate for exponential-phase cells. After threonine exhaustion, the time for a 50% drop in the rate of cellular autolysis was about 20 min. These rapid increases in resistance to cellular autolysis could not be accounted for by: (i) the relatively slow and small overall decrease in susceptibility of isolated cell walls to added autolysin, or (ii) a decreased content of either the active or latent (proteinase activatable) form of the autolysin in the wall fraction. Continued wall synthesis resulted in dilution of preexisting autolysin in the isolated wall fraction. The release of labeled "old" relative to "new" wall from CAP-treated cultures showed that wall synthesis shifted away from the areas of wall previously shown to be associated with wall synthesis (extension) in exponential-phase cells. A corresponding dispersal of active autolysin activity was not observed. By using actinomycin D and CAP, a requirement for ribonucleic acid and protein synthesis early in the recovery of cells from amino acid starvation was demonstrated for the recovery in the ability of cells to autolyze. Evidence was obtained which suggests that a protein is involved in the conversion of latent to active autolysin. During recovery from amino acid starvation, increase in wall synthesis and content of active autolysin was delayed (25 to 35 min), whereas an increase in turbidity and latent enzyme content began within 10 min. After treatment with CAP at 22 or 52 min of recovery, a further increase in levels of both active and latent autolysin was severely inhibited; however, the increase in rate of wall synthesis was indistinguishable from that of an untreated control. This suggests that an increase in rate of wall synthesis does not depend on an increase in level of active autolysin.

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