The N-acetylgalactosamine in the walls of Bacillus subtilis 168 occurs in two polymers. One of these contains N-acetylgalactosamine, glucose and phosphorus and is attached to the peptidoglycan through an alkali-labile bond; preliminary studies indicate that a repeating unit of this polymer is glucosyl-N-acetylgalactosamine 1-phosphate. N-Acetylgalactosamine is also associated with the peptidoglycan in a component that is not converted into the free sugar or other soluble compounds on treatment of the walls with alkali. The two polymers containing N-acetylgalactosamine are released on autolysis of the walls and can be separated by ion-exchange chromatography. As glucose 6-phosphate is produced by gentle hydrolysis of the wall with acid a third phosphate polymer, poly(glucose 1-phosphate), may occur in this wall. However, as no polymer with this structure could be separated from that containing galactosamine, its existence has not been established unequivocally. The methods described permit the study of variations in N-acetylgalactosamine content with respect to growth conditions.

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