The mode of transport of the complex toxin molecule of (which has a mol. wt of 84000 and consists of several subunits) across the inner and outer membranes of is not known. In this study we found two peptides in the outer and inner membranes of which may be the form in which the toxin subunits are transported across the membrane. We examined two growth conditions: aerobic growth at 37 C, when most of the synthesized toxin is membrane-bound; and anaerobic growth at 37 C, when little toxin remains membrane-bound, the toxin being released into the growth medium. When was grown aerobically at 37 C, the outer and the inner membranes contained two peptides with mol. wts of approximately 22000 and 6000 which were not found in the outer or the inner membrane of anaerobically grown cells. Sodium deoxycholate, which releases membrane-bound toxin, released several peptides including the 22000 and the 6000 mol. wt peptides. Trypsin also released the 22000 and 6000 mol. wt peptides. Purified cholera toxin had three kinds of peptides, of mol. wt 21000 (A peptide), 11000 (B subunit) and 5000 (A peptide). We postulate that the membrane peptides may be precursors of the A subunit of the toxin molecule.


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