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J Bacteriol. 1996 Dec;178(23):6766-71.

Role of precursor translocation in coordination of murein and phospholipid synthesis in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Abteilung Biology, Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie, Tübingen, Germany.


Inhibition of phospholipid synthesis in Escherichia coli by either cerulenin treatment or glycerol starvation of a glycerol-auxotrophic mutant resulted in a concomitant block of murein synthesis. The intracellular pool of cytoplasmic and lipid-linked murein precursors was not affected by an inhibition of phospholipid synthesis, nor was the activity of the penicillin-binding proteins. In addition, a decrease in the activity of the two lipoprotein murein hydrolases, the lytic transglycosylases A and B, could not be demonstrated. The indirect inhibition of murein synthesis by cerulenin resulted in a 68% decrease of trimeric muropeptide structures, proposed to represent the attachment points of newly added murein. Importantly, inhibition of phospholipid synthesis also inhibited O-antigen synthesis with a sensitivity and kinetics similar to those of murein synthesis. It is concluded that the step common for murein and O-antigen synthesis, the translocation of the respective bactoprenolphosphate-linked precursor molecules, is affected by an inhibition of phospholipid synthesis. Consistent with this assumption, it was shown that murein synthesis no longer depends on ongoing phospholipid synthesis in ether-permeabilized cells. We propose that the assembly of a murein-synthesizing machinery, a multienzyme complex consisting of murein hydrolases and synthases, at specific sites of the membrane, where integral membrane proteins such as RodA and FtsW facilitate the translocation of the lipid-linked murein precursors to the periplasm, depends on ongoing phospholipid synthesis. This would explain the well-known phenomenon that both murein synthesis and antibiotic-induced autolysis depend on phospholipid synthesis and thereby indirectly on the stringent control.

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