1. A method is described for preparing spheroplasts from Paracoccus denitrificans that are substantially depleted of dissimilatory nitrate reductase (cytochrome cd) activity. Treatment of cells with lysozyme + EDTA together with a mild osmotic shock, followed by centrifugation, yielded a pellet of spheroplasts and a supernatant that contained d-type cytochrome. The spheroplasts were judged to have retained an intact plasma membrane on the basis that less than 1% of the activity of a cytoplasmic marker protein, malate dehydrogenase, was released from the spheroplasts. In addition to a low activity towards added nitrite, the suspension of spheroplasts accumulated the nitrite that was produced by respiratory chain-linked reduction of nitrate. It is concluded that nitrate reduction occurs at the periplasmic side of the plasma membrane irrespective of whether nitrite is generated by nitrate reduction or is added exogenously. 2. Further evidence for the integrity of the spheroplasts was that nitrate reduction was inhibited by O2, and that chlorate was reduced at a markedly lower rate than nitrate. These data are taken as evidence for an intact plasma membrane because it was shown that cells acquire the capability to reduce nitrate under aerobic conditions after addition of low amounts of Triton X-100 which, with the same titre, also overcame the permeability barrier to chlorate reduction by intact cells. The close relationship between the appearance of chlorate reduction and the loss of the inhibitory effect of O2 on nitrate reduction also suggests that the later feature of nitrate respiration is due to a control on the accessibility of nitrate to its reductase rather than on the flow of electrons to nitrate reductase.

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