Membrane-envelope fragments have been isolated from Escherichia coli by comparatively mild techniques. The use of DNAase, RNAase, detergents, sonication, lysozyme, and ethylenediaminetetraacetate were avoided in the belief that rather delicate, but metabolically important, associations may exist between the plasma membrane and various cytoplasmic components. The membrane-envelope fragments have been characterized in terms of their content of major chemical components as well as their electron microscope appearance. Fractions containing membrane-envelope fragments were found to possess appreciable DNA- and protein-synthesizing activities. The fragments were rich in membrane content as determined by reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) oxidase activity and deficient in soluble components as measured by NADH dehydrogenase activity. The particulate fraction obtained between 20,000 g and 105,000 g and usually considered a ribosomal fraction was rich in membrane content and had a relatively high capacity for DNA synthesis. Envelope fragments sedimenting at 20,000 g attained very high levels of incorporation of amino acids into protein.

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