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Mol Microbiol. 1999 Sep;33(6):1244-53.

Identification of a peptide synthetase involved in the biosynthesis of glycopeptidolipids of Mycobacterium smegmatis.

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Department of Microbiology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, 3168, Australia.


Five rough colony mutants of Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2155 were produced by transposon mutagenesis. The mutants were unable to synthesize glycopeptidolipids that are normally abundant in the cell wall of wild-type M. smegmatis. The glycopeptidolipids have a lipopeptide core comprising a fatty acid amide linked to a tetrapeptide that is modified with O-methylated rhamnose and O-acylated 6-deoxy talose. Compositional analysis of lipids extracted from the mutants indicated that the defect in glycopeptidolipid synthesis occurred in the assembly of the lipopeptide core. No other defects or compensatory changes in cell wall structure were detected in the mutants. All five mutants had transposon insertions in a gene encoding an enzyme belonging to the peptide synthetase family. Targeted disruption of the gene in the wild-type strain gave a phenotype identical to that of the five transposon mutants. The M. smegmatis peptide synthetase gene is predicted to encode four modules that each contain domains for cofactor binding and for amino acid recognition and adenylation. Three modules also have amino acid racemase domains. These data suggest that the common lipopeptide core of these important cell wall glycolipids is synthesized by a peptide synthetase.

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