Synthesis of peptidoglycan and membrane during the division cycle of rod-shaped, gram-negative bacteria

David Gally, Kelvin Bray, Stephen Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A modified procedure for determining the pattern of peptidoglycan synthesis during the division cycle has allowed the measurement of the rate of side wall synthesis during the division cycle without the contribution due to pole formation. As predicted by a model proposing that the surface growth of the cell is regulated by mass increase, we find a decrease in side wall synthesis in the latter half of the division cycle. This supports the proposal that, upon invagination, pole growth accommodates a significant proportion of the increasing cell mass and that residual side wall growth occurs in response to the residual mass increase not accommodated by pole volume. The observed side wall synthesis patterns support the proposal that mass increase is a major, and possibly sole, regulator of bacterial surface increase. Membrane synthesis during the division cycle of the gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium has also been measured with similar methods. The rate of membrane synthesis--measured by incorporation of radioactive glycerol or palmitate relative to simultaneous labeling with radioactive leucine--exhibits the same pattern as peptidoglycan synthesis. The results are compatible with a model of cell surface growth containing the following elements. (i) During the period of the division cycle prior to invagination, growth of the cell occurs predominantly in the side wall and the cell grows only in length. (ii) When invagination begins, pole growth accommodates some cytoplasmic increase, leading to a concomitant decrease in side wall synthesis. (iii) Surface synthesis increases relative to mass synthesis during the last part of the division cycle because of pole formation. It is proposed here that membrane synthesis passively follows the pattern of peptidoglycan synthesis during the division cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3121-30
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 1993


  • Cell Cycle/physiology
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Membrane/metabolism
  • Cell Polarity/physiology
  • Cell Wall/metabolism
  • Diaminopimelic Acid/metabolism
  • Enterobacteriaceae/growth & development
  • Escherichia coli/growth & development
  • Glycerol/metabolism
  • Leucine/metabolism
  • Palmitates/metabolism
  • Peptidoglycan/biosynthesis
  • Phospholipids/metabolism
  • Salmonella typhimurium/growth & development
  • Time Factors


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