Relation between cell wall turnover and cell growth in Bacillus subtilis

J Bacteriol. 1977 May;130(2):610-9. doi: 10.1128/JB.130.2.610-619.1977.


The kinetics of cell wall turnover in Bacillus subtilis have been examined in detail. After pulse labeling of the peptidoglycan with N-acetylglucosamine, the newly formed peptidoglycan is stable for approximately three-quarters of a generation and is then degraded by a process that follows first-order kinetics. Deprivation of an auxotroph of amino acids required for protein synthesis results in a cessation of turnover. If a period of amino acid starvation occurs during the lag phase of turnover, then the initiation of turnover is delayed for a period of time equivalent to the starvation period. During amino acid starvation, new cell wall peptidoglycan is synthesized and added to preexisting cell wall. This peptidoglycan after resumption of growth is also subject to degradation (turnover). It is suggested that cell wall turnover is dependent on cell growth and elongation. Several possible control mechanisms for cell wall autolytic enzymes are discussed in light of these observations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Bacillus subtilis / growth & development
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism*
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Chloramphenicol / pharmacology
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase / analysis
  • Peptidoglycan / metabolism*
  • Tritium


  • Amino Acids
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Peptidoglycan
  • Tritium
  • Chloramphenicol
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase
  • Acetylglucosamine