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Chemical basis for selectivity of metal ions by the Bacillus subtilis cell wall.

Publication Date
  • Research Article
  • Chemistry


The use of equilibrium dialysis techniques established that isolated cell walls of Bacillus subtilis possess selective affinities for several cations. The binding of these cations to the cell wall was influenced by the presence of various functional groups in the peptidoglycan matrix. Selective chemical modification of the free carboxyl and amino groups showed that when amino groups were replaced by neutral, bulky, or negatively charged groups, the sites available for cation complexing generally increased. Introduction of positive charges into the wall resulted in a marked decrease in the numbers of metal binding sites and usually a decrease in the apparent association constants. Both teichoic acid and peptidoglycan contribute to the sites available for interaction with metals. Hill plots of equilibrium dialysis data suggest that metal binding to cell walls involves negative cooperativity. Competition between various metals for binding sites suggested that the cations complex with identical sites on the cell walls. When the hydrogen ion concentration was increased, the affinity of the walls for metals decreased, but the numbers of metal binding sites remained constant, suggesting that cations and protons also compete for the same sites.

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