The synthesis of peptidoglycan by cell-free membrane and membrane+wall preparations from an autolysin-deficient, β-lactamase-negative mutant of Bacillus licheniformis N.C.T.C. 6346 was studied. The membrane preparation synthesized un-cross-linked polymer, the formation of which was not inhibited by β-lactam antibiotics. Release of d-alanine by the action of d-alanine carboxypeptidase was inhibited variably according to the antibiotic. This inhibition was reversed by neutral hydroxylamine but not by the action of β-lactamases or by washing. Bacitracin inhibited peptidoglycan synthesis, but not the d-alanine carboxypeptidase. Examination of peptidoglycan synthesized in the presence of excess of bacitracin showed that synthesis was not restricted to the addition of one disaccharide-pentapeptide unit at each synthetic site, an average of 2–3 disaccharide-pentapeptide units being added. Peptidoglycan synthesis was three- to four-fold more sensitive to vancomycin than was the release of d-alanine by the action of the carboxypeptidase. Incorporation of newly synthesized peptidoglycan into pre-existing cell wall was studied in membrane+wall preparations. This incorporation was catalysed by a benzylpenicillin- and cephaloridine-sensitive transpeptidase. The concentrations of these antibiotics giving 50% inhibition of incorporation were almost identical with those required to inhibit growth of the bacillus. Inhibition of the transpeptidase was reversed by treatment with β-lactamase or by washing.

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