SUMMARY: The ability of cell-free extracts of to form cyanide has been investigated. For maximal activity, extracts had to be prepared from bacteria harvested at the end of growth and stored under anaerobic conditions in the presence of dithiothreitol. Glycine was the substrate for cyanide formation by extracts and an electron acceptor such as phenazine methosulphate was required. Radiolabelling studies confirmed that cyanide was produced by decarboxylation of glycine. Formaldoxime, glyoxylic acid oxime, oxamic acid and -hydroxyglycine, potential intermediates in the conversion of glycine to cyanide, were tested as substrates for cyanogenesis, but were inactive. However, -hydroxyglycine was a noncompetitive inhibitor of cyanogenesis from glycine. Cyanogenic activity was found principally in the particulate fraction, but a significant amount was also present in the supernatant fraction from high-speed centrifugation. The activity in the particulate fraction was solubilized with detergents.


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