SUMMARY: were exposed to extracts of human neutrophil granules and effects on gonococcal growth and membranes were determined. Enumeration of gonococci by phase-contrast microscopy at 0 and 60 min revealed that they underwent very limited cell division after exposure to granule extract. At 60 min, treated gonococci tended to clump, and some lost their refractivity under phase-contrast optics, indicating membrane damage. Treated and untreated gonococci utilized oxygen at similar rates at time 0; treated gonococci utilized oxygen at a relatively constant rate for 60 min, even though colony-forming ability (i.e. viability) decreased by 90%, whereas untreated gonococci showed a steadily increasing rate of oxygen consumption over the same period, which essentially paralleled increase in colony-forming ability. Membrane ultrastructure of untreated and treated gonococci was compared in thin section by transmission electron microscopy. Extract treatment resulted in a time-related increase in disruption of the bacterial outer membrane, which became apparent almost immediately after treatment. This was accompanied by increasingly aberrant septum structure. Extract treatment also increased the resolution of peptidoglycan by electron microscopy, as early as 10 min after treatment. These data suggest that extract treatment of gonococci caused a rapid loss of the ability to form colonies on agar concomitant with alteration of gonococcal peptidoglycan and outer-membrane structure, but with little alteration of inner-membrane function.


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