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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 21;103(47):17909-14. Epub 2006 Nov 8.

L,L-diaminopimelate aminotransferase, a trans-kingdom enzyme shared by Chlamydia and plants for synthesis of diaminopimelate/lysine.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, F Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814-4799, USA.


The synthesis of meso-diaminopimelic acid (m-DAP) in bacteria is essential for both peptidoglycan and lysine biosynthesis. From genome sequencing data, it was unclear how bacteria of the Chlamydiales order would synthesize m-DAP in the absence of dapD, dapC, and dapE, which are missing from the genome. Here, we assessed the biochemical capacity of Chlamydia trachomatis serovar L2 to synthesize m-DAP. Expression of the chlamydial asd, dapB, and dapF genes in the respective Escherichia coli m-DAP auxotrophic mutants restored the mutants to DAP prototrophy. Screening of a C. trachomatis genomic library in an E. coli DeltadapD DAP auxotroph identified ct390 as encoding an enzyme that restored growth to the Escherichia coli mutant. ct390 also was able to complement an E. coli DeltadapD DeltadapE, but not a DeltadapD DeltadapF mutant, providing genetic evidence that it encodes an aminotransferase that may directly convert tetrahydrodipicolinate to L,L-diaminopimelic acid. This hypothesis was supported by in vitro kinetic analysis of the CT390 protein and the fact that similar properties were demonstrated for the Protochlamydia amoebophila homologue, PC0685. In vivo, the C. trachomatis m-DAP synthesis genes are expressed as early as 8 h after infection. An aminotransferase activity analogous to CT390 recently has been characterized in plants and cyanobacteria. This previously undescribed pathway for m-DAP synthesis supports an evolutionary relationship among the chlamydiae, cyanobacteria, and plants and strengthens the argument that chlamydiae synthesize a cell wall despite the inability of efforts to date to detect peptidoglycan in these organisms.

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