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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2008 Sep-Nov;79(3-5):117-21. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2008.09.020. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

Lipid II: a central component in bacterial cell wall synthesis and a target for antibiotics.

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Chemical Biology and Organic Chemistry, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The bacterial cell wall is mainly composed of peptidoglycan, which is a three-dimensional network of long aminosugar strands located on the exterior of the cytoplasmic membrane. These strands consist of alternating MurNAc and GlcNAc units and are interlinked to each other via peptide moieties that are attached to the MurNAc residues. Peptidoglycan subunits are assembled on the cytoplasmic side of the bacterial membrane on a polyisoprenoid anchor and one of the key components in the synthesis of peptidoglycan is Lipid II. Being essential for bacterial cell survival, it forms an attractive target for antibacterial compounds such as vancomycin and several lantibiotics. Lipid II consists of one GlcNAc-MurNAc-pentapeptide subunit linked to a polyiosoprenoid anchor 11 subunits long via a pyrophosphate linker. This review focuses on this special molecule and addresses three questions. First, why are special lipid carriers as polyprenols used in the assembly of peptidoglycan? Secondly, how is Lipid II translocated across the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane? And finally, how is Lipid II used as a receptor for lantibiotics to kill bacteria?

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