Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Bacteriol. 2007 Sep;189(18):6512-20. Epub 2007 Jun 22.

Unstable Escherichia coli L forms revisited: growth requires peptidoglycan synthesis.

Author information

  • 1Institut Jacques Monod, 2 place Jussieu, 75251 Paris Cedex 05, France.


Growing bacterial L forms are reputed to lack peptidoglycan, although cell division is normally inseparable from septal peptidoglycan synthesis. To explore which cell division functions L forms use, we established a protocol for quantitatively converting a culture of a wild-type Escherichia coli K-12 strain overnight to a growing L-form-like state by use of the beta-lactam cefsulodin, a specific inhibitor of penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) 1A and 1B. In rich hypertonic medium containing cefsulodin, all cells are spherical and osmosensitive, like classical L forms. Surprisingly, however, mutant studies showed that colony formation requires d-glutamate, diaminopimelate, and MurA activity, all of which are specific to peptidoglycan synthesis. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis confirmed that these L-form-like cells contain peptidoglycan, with 7% of the normal amount. Moreover, the beta-lactam piperacillin, a specific inhibitor of the cell division protein PBP 3, rapidly blocks the cell division of these L-form-like cells. Similarly, penicillin-induced L-form-like cells, which grow only within the agar layers of rich hypertonic plates, also require d-glutamate, diaminopimelate, and MurA activity. These results strongly suggest that cefsulodin- and penicillin-induced L-form-like cells of E. coli-and possibly all L forms-have residual peptidoglycan synthesis which is essential for their growth, probably being required for cell division.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk