The growth of logarithmic-phase cultures of E. coli B cells on glucose-mineral medium was partially inhibited by 0.2 mM L-cysteine-HCl. Twenty other amino acids failed to show a similar inhibiting effect even at a concentration of 10 mM. After incubation of the log-phase culture in the presence of 2.0 mM cysteine for 30 minutes (inhibition about 70%) the cells were centrifuged, resuspended, and diluted 200-fold in cysteine-free phosphate buffer. These cells exhibited increased resistance to the effect of X-rays as measured by the number of colony-forming units (DRF = 2.1). Both the growth-inhibiting and the radioprotective effects of cysteine could be diminished by the presence of 0.5 mg of casein hydrolyzate per milliliter during the 30-minute preirradiation culture period. This "anti-cysteine" effect was caused mainly by L-leucine, L-isoleucine, L-valine, and L-threonine from among the amino acids of casein hydrolyzate. It is suggested that cysteine inhibits the biosynthesis of some amino acids, thereby blocking protein synthesis, which may result in increased radioresistance.

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