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J Bacteriol. 2006 Dec;188(23):8313-6. Epub 2006 Sep 29.

Wall teichoic acid polymers are dispensable for cell viability in Bacillus subtilis.

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  • 1Antimicrobial Research Centre and Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, L8N 3Z5, Canada.


An extensive literature has established that the synthesis of wall teichoic acid in Bacillus subtilis is essential for cell viability. Paradoxically, we have recently shown that wall teichoic acid biogenesis is dispensable in Staphylococcus aureus (M. A. D'Elia, M. P. Pereira, Y. S. Chung, W. Zhao, A. Chau, T. J. Kenney, M. C. Sulavik, T. A. Black, and E. D. Brown, J. Bacteriol. 188:4183-4189, 2006). A complex pattern of teichoic acid gene dispensability was seen in S. aureus where the first gene (tarO) was dispensable and later acting genes showed an indispensable phenotype. Here we show, for the first time, that wall teichoic acid synthesis is also dispensable in B. subtilis and that a similar gene dispensability pattern is seen where later acting enzymes display an essential phenotype, while the gene tagO, whose product catalyzes the first step in the pathway, could be deleted to yield viable mutants devoid of teichoic acid in the cell wall.

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