Copyright © 1993, American Society for Microbiology Membrane-Associated Nuclease Activities in Mycoplasmas


Membrane-associated nucleases of various mycoplasmal species were investigated by using two nuclease assays. A lambda DNA assay was developed to measure nuclease activity associated with whole-cell suspensions, activity released from intact cells, and activity associated with detergent-disrupted cells. In most species, nuclease activities were entirely membrane associated, and disruption by a detergent had a stimulatory effect on these activities. All mycoplasmal species contained nuclease activity, but Mycoplasma capricolum was unusual because its activity was dependent upon magnesium and was inhibited by calcium. We developed a sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis system that produced reproducible nuclease patterns, and this system was used to determine the apparent molecular weights of the nuclease proteins. An examination of 20 mycoplasmal species failed to identify common bands in their nuclease patterns. An examination of 11 Mycoplasma pulmonis strains, however, indicated that nuclease patterns on polyacrylamide gels may provide a means for categorizing strains within a species. Our results suggest that nucleases are important constituents of mycoplasmal membranes and may be involved in the acquisition of host nucleic acids required for growth. Mycoplasmas, cell wall-less bacteria of the class Mollicutes, are among the smallest self-replicating organisms known an

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