A cell-free membrane preparation from a poorly lytic mutant of Bacillus licheniformis was used to synthesize radioactive peptidoglycan. The product was apparently un-cross-linked. When UDP-N-acetyl[14C]glucosamine was used and the final peptidoglycan subjected to Smith degradation, no radioactive glycerol was found. On the other hand, when peptidoglycan labelled with meso-diamino[14C]pimelic acid was first hydrolysed in 0.1m-HCl at 60°C for 2h and then subjected to alkaline conditions, radioactive lactyl-peptides were eliminated. The proportion of radioactive lactyl-peptide decreased with increasing time of incorporation. It is concluded that the glycan chains grow by extension at their reducing ends while remaining attached by some linkage labile to mild acid, such as a glycosyl link to undecaprenol pyrophosphate.

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