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J Bacteriol. 2003 Jul;185(13):3813-20.

Characterization of LytH, a differentiation-associated peptidoglycan hydrolase of Bacillus subtilis involved in endospore cortex maturation.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom.


The cortex peptidoglycan from endospores of Bacillus subtilis is responsible for the maintenance of dormancy. LytH (YunA) has been identified as a novel sporulation-specific component with a role in cortex structure determination. The lytH gene was expressed only during sporulation, under the control of the mother cell-specific sigma factor sigma(K). Spores of a lytH mutant have slightly reduced heat resistance and altered staining when viewed by electron microscopy. Analysis of the peptidoglycan structure of lytH mutant spores shows the loss of muramic acid residues substituted with L-alanine and a corresponding increase in muramic acid residues substituted with tetrapeptide compared to those in the parent strain. In a lytH cwlD mutant, the lack of muramic acid residues substituted with L-alanine and delta-lactam leaves 97% of residues substituted with tetrapeptide. These results suggest that lytH encodes an L-Ala-D-Glu peptidase involved in production of single L-alanine side chains from tetrapeptides in the spore cortex. The lack of di- or tripeptides in a lytH mutant reveals the enzyme is an endopeptidase.

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