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Res Microbiol. 1991 Feb-Apr;142(2-3):333-44.

On the role of the high molecular weight penicillin-binding proteins in the cell cycle of Escherichia coli.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, University of Amsterdam.


Blocking of penicillin-binding proteins (PBP) 2 or 3 of Escherichia coli by specific antibiotics led to inhibition of peptidoglycan synthesis measured as rate of 3H-Dap incorporation. The inhibition was ca 60% by mecillinam (blocking PBP2) and ca 35% by cephalexin or furazlocillin (both specific for PBP3). PBP3 could be inhibited primarily during constriction, whereas the inhibition of PBP2 was observed throughout the cell cycle. The ratio of PBP2 and 3 activities appeared to be correlated with cell shape, i.e. in long rods, inhibition of peptidoglycan synthesis by mecillinam was stronger than in short rods. Inhibition studies with the PBP1A/1B-specific antibiotic cefsulodin showed that, with a delay of approximately 1/2 mass-doubling time, peptidoglycan synthesis was inhibited completely with concomitant lysis. The cefsulodin-induced lysis was independent of the stage of the cell cycle. It was suggested that PBP1A/1B do not have a specific function in either elongation or constriction. Rather, they seem to have a general activity on the basis of which the other synthesizing PBP perform their special tasks. This interpretation is formulated as a "primer model of peptidoglycan synthesis".

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