A special morphogenetic wall defect and the subsequent activity of “murosomes” as the very reason for penicillin-induced bacteriolysis in staphylococci
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The actual reason for the penicillin-induced bacteriolysis of staphylococci was shown to be the “punching” of one or a few minute holes into the peripheral cell wall at predictable sites. These perforations were the result of the lytic activity of novel, extraplasmatic vesicular structures, located exclusively within the bacterial wall material, which we have named “murosomes”.
In untreated staphylococci the punching of holes into the peripheral wall is a normal process which follows cross wall completion and represents the first visible step of cell separation. Under penicillin, however, analogous holes are punched by the murosomes at sites of presumptive cell separation even if no sufficient cross wall material had been assembled before at this site (but had rather been deposited at other sites). Consequently, because of the internal pressure of the protoplast, lytic death is the inevitable result of this perforation of the protective peripheral wall.
Hence, the real mechanism of penicillin-induced bacteriolysis in staphylococci is considered to be mainly the result of a special morphogenetic wall defect: bacteriolysis is taking place regularly when a cell separation process is no longer preceeded by sufficient cross wall assembly at the correct place. However, hypotheses which are based purely on some variations of overall biochemical processes like total wall enzyme activities or total wall synthesis are not regarded to be sufficient to explain this type of lytic death.
Key wordsBacteriolysis Penicillin Autolysis Cell wall Electron microscopy Staphylococcus aureus
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