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Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 24;7:43306. doi: 10.1038/srep43306.

Interplay between Penicillin-binding proteins and SEDS proteins promotes bacterial cell wall synthesis.

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Centre d'Ingénierie des Protéines, University of Liège, B6a, Quartier Agora, allée du six Août 11, 4000 Liège 1, Belgium.
Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, The Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, Newcastle University, Richardson Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4AX, UK.
Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Bacteria utilize specialized multi-protein machineries to synthesize the essential peptidoglycan (PG) cell wall during growth and division. The divisome controls septal PG synthesis and separation of daughter cells. In E. coli, the lipid II transporter candidate FtsW is thought to work in concert with the PG synthases penicillin-binding proteins PBP3 and PBP1b. Yet, the exact molecular mechanisms of their function in complexes are largely unknown. We show that FtsW interacts with PBP1b and lipid II and that PBP1b, FtsW and PBP3 co-purify suggesting that they form a trimeric complex. We also show that the large loop between transmembrane helices 7 and 8 of FtsW is important for the interaction with PBP3. Moreover, we found that FtsW, but not the other flippase candidate MurJ, impairs lipid II polymerization and peptide cross-linking activities of PBP1b, and that PBP3 relieves these inhibitory effects. All together the results suggest that FtsW interacts with lipid II preventing its polymerization by PBP1b unless PBP3 is also present, indicating that PBP3 facilitates lipid II release and/or its transfer to PBP1b after transport across the cytoplasmic membrane. This tight regulatory mechanism is consistent with the cell's need to ensure appropriate use of the limited pool of lipid II.

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