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Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Seymour Benzer

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Jtlne 30, 1953 Dr. S. Benzer Biophysicril Ubor&ory Purdue aaiversity Lafayette, Indiana Dear SeymuP: It took me three montha, but I finally did get to read your me. It is a beautii3a.l job, and I am sure that I have no reservations tiat you have not aLready considered. The most general assumption ia the proportimallttg of 3yais tim to enzyras content. Rave you been able to conetruck a plausible function of time and lactase content that will fit the observed lysis/tirpe curves? In heterogeneous populations, I would imagine that the initial phys& logidal heterogeneity of the cella would &ply a variable behavior bcPh of lactase and of pbage formstin, without theee being necessarU.y directly dependent on one another. One could ask how the slopes of figure 8B and of 6C and 7C compare on the bae3.8 04 eqtivalent epesific mtivitq, or rather how the Lysfs/tW curves compamd in your orihffnal pmtoeols. Haa the change in optical density been related direutly to the ly4.s of crell populationa? Doerraann once described an independent varia,tim of these, baaed on some alteration of the optical properties of the in- gected bacteria. I am a little mrprieed that the cells grown without inducer are des- crlbed as oompleteily devoid of lactase. This was not my experience with K-l2. F&at were your msasurenaents on the qeci.fic of lactate- grown cells ? With HP0 it ehould be poastile to inemure even l/4000 of the optimal aativity, U a somewhat concentrated cell suspension is used to make the extrac9t. I have near been entirely happy about the interpreta tfon of nactivation’” by cell lysig z though the most plaua%ble explanat!i.on see-d to be the mm- pemeationnof sodium into the intact bacteria, Let u8 hope that it tmms out to be so dmple, or we my not have known what was being measured fa? all these experiments. Boris Rotan has just started working here (and at the Enzpe Institute) on a fellowship TV study just this, and related problem. Pours sb

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