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J Bacteriol. 2005 Mar;187(5):1612-20.

An unusual mutation results in the replacement of diaminopimelate with lanthionine in the peptidoglycan of a mutant strain of Mycobacterium smegmatis.

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University of Rochester Medical Center, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, 601 Elmwood Ave., Box 672, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Mycobacterial peptidoglycan contains L-alanyl-D-iso-glutaminyl-meso-diaminopimelyl-D-alanyl-D-alanine peptides, with the exception of the peptidoglycan of Mycobacterium leprae, in which glycine replaces the L-alanyl residue. The third-position amino acid of the peptides is where peptidoglycan cross-linking occurs, either between the meso-diaminopimelate (DAP) moiety of one peptide and the penultimate D-alanine of another peptide or between two DAP residues. We previously described a collection of spontaneous mutants of DAP-auxotrophic strains of Mycobacterium smegmatis that can grow in the absence of DAP. The mutants are grouped into seven classes, depending on how well they grow without DAP and whether they are sensitive to DAP, temperature, or detergent. Furthermore, the mutants are hypersusceptible to beta-lactam antibiotics when grown in the absence of DAP, suggesting that these mutants assemble an abnormal peptidoglycan. In this study, we show that one of these mutants, M. smegmatis strain PM440, utilizes lanthionine, an unusual bacterial metabolite, in place of DAP. We also demonstrate that the abilities of PM440 to grow without DAP and use lanthionine for peptidoglycan biosynthesis result from an unusual mutation in the putative ribosome binding site of the cbs gene, encoding cystathionine beta-synthase, an enzyme that is a part of the cysteine biosynthetic pathway.

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