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J Bacteriol. 1993 May;175(10):2970-9.

The murI gene of Escherichia coli is an essential gene that encodes a glutamate racemase activity.

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  • 1URA 1131 du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Universit√© Paris-Sud, Orsay, France.


The murI gene of Escherichia coli was recently identified on the basis of its ability to complement the only mutant requiring D-glutamic acid for growth that had been described to date: strain WM335 of E. coli B/r (P. Doublet, J. van Heijenoort, and D. Mengin-Lecreulx, J. Bacteriol. 174:5772-5779, 1992). We report experiments of insertional mutagenesis of the murI gene which demonstrate that this gene is essential for the biosynthesis of D-glutamic acid, one of the specific components of cell wall peptidoglycan. A special strategy was used for the construction of strains with a disrupted copy of murI, because of a limited capability of E. coli strains grown in rich medium to internalize D-glutamic acid. The murI gene product was overproduced and identified as a glutamate racemase activity. UDP-N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine (UDP-MurNAc-L-Ala), which is the nucleotide substrate of the D-glutamic-acid-adding enzyme (the murD gene product) catalyzing the subsequent step in the pathway for peptidoglycan synthesis, appears to be an effector of the racemase activity.

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