A mutant of Escherichia coli is described whose cells show a spherical or irregular morphology, associated with leakage of beta-galactosidase and other intracellular proteins. The expression of the morphologic abnormality is most marked when the mutant is grown in rich media and is suppressed by D-alamine, D-serine, D-glutamate, or glycine supplementation. D-Alanine is the most effective amino acid supplement, half maximally supressing this anomalous property at a concentration of 75 mug/ml, as measured by the reduction in beta-galactosidase released from the cells. The mutant is more sensitive to penicillin G, D-methionine, and D-valine and it is relatively resistant to lysozyme. These phenotypic abnormalities are likewise corrected by the above supplementations. The relative rates of peptidoglycan synthesis in mutant and parent, grown under restrictive conditions, were measured both in vivo and in vitro by rates of incorporation of L-[14-D]alanine and uridine-5'-diphosphate-N-acetyl-D-[1-15C-A1-glucosamine, respectively. There is not metabolic block in the biosynthesis of uridine-5'-diphosphate-N-acetyl-muramyl-pentapeptide as shown by enzymic analysis and the lack of accumulation of uridine-5'-diphosphate-N-acetylmuramyl-peptide precursors. These preliminary studies suggest that the mutant possesses a defect in the biosynthesis of peptidoglycan although the exact lesion has not yet been established
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