A procedure has been developed for the large-scale fractionation into size and age classes of bacteria from exponentially growing cultures of K12 by centrifugation through an equivolumetric gradient of sucrose in a zonal rotor. The resolution attained is superior to that in methods of this type that have been described previously. The activity of adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) was assayed in extracts from bacteria separated into size classes by this method and from synchronous cultures prepared by size selection. Activity approximately doubled during a cell cycle, but the experimental data did not fit models of either continuously or exponentially increasing activity during the cycle. It is suggested that ATPase activity oscillates during the cell cycle with maxima at about 0.37 and 0.80 of a cycle. The fluctuations in activity greatly exceed the variations due to experimental error and, in the case of synchronous cultures, do not arise from perturbations in growth behaviour following zonal gradient selection. Sensitivity of ATPase activity to 75 μM-Ruthenium Red also fluctuates during the cell cycle, with maximum inhibition (60 to 80%) occurring near the middle of the cycle, a time that does not coincide with maximum enzyme activity.


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