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Mol Microbiol. 2012 Sep;85(5):975-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08153.x. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

Minimal requirements for inhibition of MraY by lysis protein E from bacteriophage ΦX174.

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Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, M/C 114-96, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


The DNA phage ΦX174 encodes the integral membrane protein E whose expression leads to host cell lysis by inhibition of the peptidoglycan synthesis enzyme MraY. Here we use mutagenesis to characterize the molecular details of the E lysis mechanism. We find that a minimal 18-residue region with the modified wild-type sequences of the conserved transmembrane helix of E is sufficient to lyse host cells and that specific residues within and at the boundaries of this helix are important for activity. This suggests that positioning of the helix in the membrane is critical for interactions with MraY. We further characterize the interaction site of the transmembrane helix with MraY demonstrating E forms a stable complex with MraY. Triggering cell lysis by peptidoglycan synthesis inhibition is a traditional route for antimicrobial strategies. Understanding the mechanism of bacterial cell lysis by E will provide insights into new antimicrobial strategies using re-engineered E peptides.

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