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Trends Microbiol. 2003 Dec;11(12):547-53.

Cell wall branches, penicillin resistance and the secrets of the MurM protein.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Seaver Foundation Center for Bioinformatics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Ave, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Production of low-affinity forms of penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs), although essential, is not sufficient to protect pneumococci against the inhibitory action of penicillin. Resistance also requires the newly identified protein MurM which, together with MurN, is involved with the synthesis of short peptide branches in the pneumococcal cell wall. Cells in which murM was inactivated produced cell walls without branches and also completely lost penicillin resistance. To understand these surprising observations a 3D-model of MurM was constructed, which helped to put into structural context several of the biochemical and genetic observations made about this protein.

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