Letter | Published:

Effect of Heavy Water on Respiratory-chain Enzymes

Naturevolume 187pages11151117 (1960) | Download Citation



DURING radiobiological work on bacteria it was found by one of us (H. L.) that the effect of ionizing radiation (X-rays) is greatly potentiated if the bacteria are irradiated in a medium in which water is replaced by heavy water1. Thus, for example, with Escherichia coli B and Pseudomonas 6009 the dose-reduction factor was approximately 2, that is, the X-ray dose required to produce a given reduction in the number of colony-forming bacteria on irradiation in deuterium oxide was one half that in water. This effect, however, occurred only if the bacteria were irradiated in presence of oxygen, but not, or only insignificantly, after irradiation under anaerobic conditions.

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  1. 1

    Laser, H., Int. J. App. Rad. Isotopes, 6, 96 (1959).

  2. 2

    Bonhoeffer, K. F., Ergeb. Enzymforschung, 6, 47 (1933).

  3. 3

    Shibata, K., and Watanabe, A., Acta Phytochimica, 15, 169 (1949).

  4. 4

    Drysdale, G. R., J. Biol. Chem., 234, 2399 (1959).

  5. 5

    Slater, E. C., Nature, 172, 975 (1953).

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  1. H. LASER: Member of the Scientific Staff, Medical Research Council.


  1. Molteno Institute, University of Cambridge

    • H. LASER
  2. Laboratory of Physiological Chemistry, University of Amsterdam

    • E. C. SLATER


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