SUMMARY: Treatment with mercaptoethanol caused spores of various bacteria to become sensitive to lysis by lysozyme, a spore enzyme and hydrogen peroxide; further treatment with alkali caused greater sensitization to these lytic agents. Alkali removed a protein from the outer coats of mercaptoethanol-treated spores. The protein from and contained high levels of acidic and basic amino acids; that from contained a high proportion (over 7% of its residues) of tyrosine. Electron microscopy of thin section and freeze-etch samples showed that the alkali-soluble protein contributed to a striking banding pattern containing 57 Å spaced fibres on the outer surface of spores. This layer may function as a protection against the enzymes of potential predators.


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