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J Biol Chem. 2009 Aug 14;284(33):21856-62. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.034363. Epub 2009 Jun 19.

The elucidation of the structure of Thermotoga maritima peptidoglycan reveals two novel types of cross-link.

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Laboratoire des Enveloppes Bactériennes et Antibiotiques, Institut de Biochimie et Biophysique Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Université Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay, France.


Thermotoga maritima is a Gram-negative, hyperthermophilic bacterium whose peptidoglycan contains comparable amounts of L- and D-lysine. We have determined the fine structure of this cell-wall polymer. The muropeptides resulting from the digestion of peptidoglycan by mutanolysin were separated by high-performance liquid chromatography and identified by amino acid analysis after acid hydrolysis, dinitrophenylation, enzymatic determination of the configuration of the chiral amino acids, and mass spectrometry. The high-performance liquid chromatography profile contained four main peaks, two monomers, and two dimers, plus a few minor peaks corresponding to anhydro forms. The first monomer was the d-lysine-containing disaccharide-tripeptide in which the D-Glu-D-Lys bond had the unusual gamma-->epsilon arrangement (GlcNAc-MurNAc-L-Ala-gamma-D-Glu-epsilon-D-Lys). The second monomer was the conventional disaccharide-tetrapeptide (GlcNAc-MurNAc-L-Ala-gamma-D-Glu-L-Lys-D-Ala). The first dimer contained a disaccharide-L-Ala as the acyl donor cross-linked to the alpha-amine of D-Lys in a tripeptide acceptor stem with the sequence of the first monomer. In the second dimer, donor and acceptor stems with the sequences of the second and first monomers, respectively, were connected by a D-Ala4-alpha-D-Lys3 cross-link. The cross-linking index was 10 with an average chain length of 30 disaccharide units. The structure of the peptidoglycan of T. maritima revealed for the first time the key role of D-Lys in peptidoglycan synthesis, both as a surrogate of L-Lys or meso-diaminopimelic acid at the third position of peptide stems and in the formation of novel cross-links of the L-Ala1(alpha-->alpha)D-Lys3 and D-Ala4(alpha-->alpha)D-Lys3 types.

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