Summary: H growing exponentially was labelled with -acetyl[C]glucosamine, which became incorporated into the peptidoglycan. The portion of peptidoglycan not linked to teichoic acid (60-75% of the whole) was degraded with muramidase to yield disaccharide-peptide monomers and dimers, trimers and oligomers formed by biosynthetic cross-linking of the monomers. The degree of -acetylation of these fragments was also examined. Pulse-chase experiments showed that the proportion of label initially in the monomer fraction immediately after the 1 min pulse declined rapidly during a 3 min chase, while the oligomer fraction (fragments greater than trimer) gained the radioactivity proportionately. The radioactivity of the dimer and trimer fractions remained virtually unchanged. At 4 min after the commencement of labelling (i.e. approx. one-tenth of a generation time) final values had been reached. The -acetylation of all fragments had achieved final values even at 1 min, except for the monomer fraction, which showed an increase from 40% to 60% during the first 3 min of chase. Although -acetylation was clearly a very rapid process, no -acetylated peptidoglycan lipid-intermediates could be detected.


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