The distribution of chitin in Saccharomyces cervisiae primary septa and cell walls was studied with three methods: electron microscopy of colloidal gold particles coated either with wheat germ agglutinin or with one of two different chitinases, fluorescence microscopy with fluorescein isothiocyanate derivatives of the same markers, and enzymatic treatments of [14C]glucosamine-labeled cells. The septa were uniformly and heavily labeled with the gold-attached markers, an indication that chitin was evenly distributed throughout. To study the localization of chitin in lateral walls, alkali-extracted cell ghosts were used. Observations by electron and fluorescence microscopy suggest that lectin-binding material is uniformly distributed over the whole cell ghost wall. This material also appears to be chitin, on the basis of the analysis of the products obtained after treatment of 14C-labeled cell ghosts with lytic enzymes. The chitin of lateral walls can be specifically removed by treatment with beta-(1 leads to 6)-glucanase containing a slight amount of chitinase. During this incubation approximately 7% of the total radioactivity is solubilized, about the same amount liberated when lateral walls of cell ghosts are completely digested with snail glucanase yield primary septa. It is concluded that the remaining chitin, i.e., greater than 90% of the total, is in the septa. The facilitation of chitin removal from the cell wall by beta-(1 leads to 6)-glucanase indicates a strong association between chitin and beta-(1 leads to 6)-glucan. Covalent linkages between the two polysaccharides were not detected but cannot be excluded.

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