An enzymic assay for individual isomers (meso-, LL- and DD-) of 2,6-diaminopimelate was developed. The enzyme 2,6-diaminopimelate decarboxylase specifically attacked meso-diaminopimelate and was used to measure this isomer manometrically. The meso- and LL-isomers were measured together manometrically in a coupled assay with diaminopimelate decarboxylase and diaminopimelate epimerase (which converts LL-diaminopimelate into meso-diaminopimelate). The DD-isomer was not attacked by either enzyme and was measured, as residual diaminopimelate after the coupled assay, by a colorimetric method, which was also used to measure total diaminopimelate before enzymic treatments. The coupled enzymes were also used to prepare pure DD-isomer from chemically synthesized diaminopimelate. A mixture of diaminopimelate isomers was present in walls of four strains of Bacillus megaterium [in each about 75% (w/w) meso-, 18% LL- and 7% DD-] and in walls of two strains of Bacillus cereus (about 85% meso-, 8% LL- and 7% DD-). One strain of B. cereus contained at least 95% meso-diaminopimelate, with only traces of LL- and DD-isomers. Peptidoglycan from Escherichia coli was assayed as containing at least 95% meso-isomer. The proportion of isomers in the wall of a strain of B. megaterium remained constant after growth in a variety of different media.

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