Inhibition of transformation of Bacillus subtilis by heavy metals.
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Mercuric ions, as well as organomercuric ions and cadmium ions, can inhibit deoxyribonucleic acid-mediated transformation in Bacillus subtilis 168 without decreasing the viability of the total population. Differences in the inhibition of transformation by mercuric ions are identifiable on a temporal and concentration dependence basis. Sensitivity to low concentrations (9.2 x 10(-8) M) appears early in the uptake of deoxyribonucleic acid before the transformed markers have become insensitive to deoxyribonuclease. Resistance to "low concentrations" of Hg(2+) is kinetically indistinguishable from the requirement for magnesium in the transformation process. This inactivation is not reversed by the mercury-binding compound glutathione. Sensitivity to mercuric ions at a higher concentration (5.52 x 10(-7) M) occurs after the donor deoxyribonucleic acid has become insensitive to deoxyribonuclease. These complex interactions between mercuric ions and the process of transformation are discussed.
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