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J Bacteriol. 1999 Oct;181(19):5909-14.

Expression of the Staphylococcus aureus UDP-N-acetylmuramoyl- L-alanyl-D-glutamate:L-lysine ligase in Escherichia coli and effects on peptidoglycan biosynthesis and cell growth.

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Laboratoire des Enveloppes Bactériennes, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France.


The monomer units in the Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus cell wall peptidoglycans differ in the nature of the third amino acid in the L-alanyl-gamma-D-glutamyl-X-D-alanyl-D-alanine side chain, where X is meso-diaminopimelic acid or L-lysine, respectively. The murE gene from S. aureus encoding the UDP-N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanyl-D-glutamate: L-lysine ligase was identified and cloned into plasmid vectors. Induction of its overexpression in E. coli rapidly results in abnormal morphological changes and subsequent cell lysis. A reduction of 28% in the peptidoglycan content was observed in induced cells, and analysis of the peptidoglycan composition and structure showed that ca. 50% of the meso-diaminopimelic acid residues were replaced by L-lysine. Lysine was detected in both monomer and dimer fragments, but the acceptor units from the latter contained exclusively meso-diaminopimelic acid, suggesting that no transpeptidation could occur between the epsilon-amino group of L-lysine and the alpha-carboxyl group of D-alanine. The overall cross-linking of the macromolecule was only slightly decreased. Detection and analysis of meso-diaminopimelic acid- and L-lysine-containing peptidoglycan precursors confirmed the presence of L-lysine in precursors containing amino acids added after the reaction catalyzed by the MurE ligase and provided additional information about the specificity of the enzymes involved in these latter processes.

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