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J Bacteriol. 1992 Dec;174(23):7572-8.

Possible role of Escherichia coli penicillin-binding protein 6 in stabilization of stationary-phase peptidoglycan.

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  • 1BIOSON Research Institute, Department of Biochemistry, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


Plasmids for high-level expression of penicillin-binding protein 6 (PBP6) were constructed, giving rise to overproduction of PBP6 under the control of the lambda pR promoter in either the periplasmic or the cytoplasmic space. In contrast to penicillin-binding protein 5 (PBP5), the presence of high amounts of PBP6 in the periplasm as well as in the cytoplasm did not result in growth as spherical cells or in lysis. Deletion of the C-terminal membrane anchor of PBP6 resulted in a soluble form of the protein (PBP6s350). Electron micrographs of thin sections of cells overexpressing both native membrane-bound and soluble PBP6 in the periplasm revealed a polar retraction of the cytoplasmic membrane. Cytoplasmic overexpression of native PBP6 gave rise to the formation of membrane vesicles, whereas the soluble PBP6 formed inclusion bodies in the cytoplasm. Both the membrane-bound and the soluble forms of PBP6 were purified to homogeneity by using the immobilized dye Procion rubine MX-B. Purified preparations of PBP6 and PBP6s350 formed a 14[C]penicillin-protein complex at a 1:1 stoichiometry. The half-lives of the complexes were 8.5 and 6 min, respectively. In contrast to PBP5, no DD-carboxypeptidase activity could be detected for PBP6 by using bisacetyl-L-Lys-D-Ala-D-Ala and several other substrates. These findings led us to conclude that PBP6 has a biological function clearly distinct from that of PBP5 and to suggest a role for PBP6 in the stabilization of the peptidoglycan during stationary phase.

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