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J Bacteriol. 2012 Mar;194(6):1401-16. doi: 10.1128/JB.06576-11. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Resistance phenotypes mediated by aminoacyl-phosphatidylglycerol synthases.

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Institute of Microbiology, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.


The specific aminoacylation of the phospholipid phosphatidylglycerol (PG) with alanine or with lysine catalyzed by aminoacyl-phosphatidylglycerol synthases (aaPGS) was shown to render various organisms less susceptible to antibacterial agents. This study makes use of Pseudomonas aeruginosa chimeric mutant strains producing lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol (L-PG) instead of the naturally occurring alanyl-phosphatidylglycerol (A-PG) to study the resulting impact on bacterial resistance. Consequences of such artificial phospholipid composition were studied in the presence of an overall of seven antimicrobials (β-lactams, a lipopeptide antibiotic, cationic antimicrobial peptides [CAMPs]) to quantitatively assess the effect of A-PG substitution (with L-PG, L-PG and A-PG, increased A-PG levels). For the employed Gram-negative P. aeruginosa model system, an exclusive charge repulsion mechanism does not explain the attenuated antimicrobial susceptibility due to PG modification. Additionally, the specificity of nine orthologous aaPGS enzymes was experimentally determined. The newly characterized protein sequences allowed for the establishment of a significant group of A-PG synthase sequences which were bioinformatically compared to the related group of L-PG synthesizing enzymes. The analysis revealed a diverse origin for the evolution of A-PG and L-PG synthases, as the specificity of an individual enzyme is not reflected in terms of a characteristic sequence motif. This finding is relevant for future development of potential aaPGS inhibitors.

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