SUMMARY: L-phase variants of and resembled mycoplasmas in their ability to incorporate considerable amounts of exogenous cholesterol into their cell membranes. Much smaller quantities were incorporated by L-phase variants of and by the parent bacteria of all L-phase variants except and by a series of wall-covered bacteria, including their protoplasts and spheroplasts. Cholesterol-binding ability corresponded roughly to sensitivity to growth inhibition and lysis by digitonin. Like mycoplasma, the L-phase had a non-enzymic cholesterol uptake mechanism, but its growth in a cholesterol-free medium was not improved by adding cholesterol. It is concluded that a bacterium, on transforming to its stable L-phase, does not necessarily develop the ability to bind cholesterol; if it does, the cholesterol bound is not essential for growth of the L-phase, unlike cholesterol-requiring mycoplasmas.


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