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J Bacteriol. 1997 May;179(9):2823-34.

Murein segregation in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias, Spain. madepedro@mvax.cbm.uam.es


Peptidoglycan (murein) segregation has been studied by means of a new labeling method. The method relies on the ability of Escherichia coli cells to incorporate D-Cys into macromolecular murein. The incorporation depends on a periplasmic amino acid exchange reaction. At low concentrations, D-Cys is innocuous to the cell. The distribution of modified murein in purified sacculi can be traced and visualized by immunodetection of the -SH groups by fluorescence and electron microscopy techniques. Analysis of murein segregation in wild-type and cell division mutant strains revealed that murein in polar caps is metabolically inert and is segregated in a conservative fashion. Elongation of the sacculus apparently occurs by diffuse insertion of precursors over the cylindrical part of the cell surface. At the initiation of cell division, there is a FtsZ-dependent localized activation of murein synthesis at the potential division sites. Penicillin-binding protein 3 and the products of the division genes ftsA and ftsQ are dispensable for the activation of division sites. As a consequence, under restrictive conditions ftsA,ftsI,or ftsQ mutants generate filamentous sacculi with rings of all-new murein at the positions where septa would otherwise develop.

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