Summary: The glycopeptide antibiotic teicoplanin belongs to the same group as vancomycin and ristocetin and is a valuable tool for studying the autolytic system of sensitive Gram-positive bacteria. Teicoplanin, at a concentration of 1 μg ml, caused rapid lysis of exponential phase cells of spp. were most sensitive to the antibiotic; effective lysis occurred at 0·1 μg teicoplanin ml. The bacteriolytic effect depended on the antibiotic concentration, the growth phase and growth rate of the target organism. Antibiotic added to overnight cultures did not cause lysis. Mg (50 m) was unable to prevent lysis. Mutants with decreased autolytic activity were more resistant to teicoplanin and lysed more slowly than the wild-type. Growth of bacteria in slightly acidic medium protected the cells against the lytic effect of teicoplanin typically observed at pH 7 or 8. This pH-dependent antibiotic tolerance was demonstrated with both bacilli and streptococci. Bacterial lysis was prevented by the presence of Ac--Lys(Ac)--Ala--Ala and normal growth was observed when this peptide was added simultaneously with teicoplanin. Bacteria pretreated with teicoplanin, washed and transferred to fresh medium or buffers behaved as if the antibiotic was still present; in neutral or slightly alkaline conditions strong lysis occurred, whereas in acidic buffer only bacteriostasis was observed. In contrast to vancomycin, teicoplanin induced some lysis of bacteria in hypertonic media, presumably by affecting the integrity of the cell membrane.


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