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Biochimie. 2001 Jan;83(1):103-8.

Enzymology of elongation and constriction of the murein sacculus of Escherichia coli.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie, Abteilung Biochemie, Spemannstrasse 35, 72076, Tübingen, Germany.


Multiple deletions in murein hydrolases revealed that predominantly amidases are responsible for cleavage of the septum during cell division. Endopeptidases and lytic transglycosylases seem also be involved. In the absence of these enzymes E. coli grows normally but forms chains of adhering cells. Surprisingly, mutants lacking up to eight different murein hydrolases still grow with almost unaffected growth rate. Therefore it is speculated that general enlargement of the murein sacculus may differ from cell division by using transferases rather than the two sets of hydrolytic and synthetic enzymes as seems to be the case for the constriction process. A model is presented that describes growth of the murein of both Gram-positive and -negative bacteria by the activity of murein transferases. It is speculated that enzymes exist that catalyze a transpeptidation of the pre-existing murein onto murein precursors or nascent murein by using the chemical energy present in peptide cross-bridges. Such enzymes would at the same time cleave bonds in the murein net and insert new material into the growing sacculus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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