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Mol Microbiol. 2019 Apr;111(4):995-1008. doi: 10.1111/mmi.14199. Epub 2019 Feb 3.

Differential modes of crosslinking establish spatially distinct regions of peptidoglycan in Caulobacter crescentus.

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Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, Rutgers University-Camden, Camden, NJ, 08102, USA.
Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA.
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 94158, USA.
Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, San Francisco, CA, 94158, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA.
Biology Department, Rutgers University-Camden, Camden, NJ, 08102, USA.


The diversity of cell shapes across the bacterial kingdom reflects evolutionary pressures that have produced physiologically important morphologies. While efforts have been made to understand the regulation of some prototypical cell morphologies such as that of rod-shaped Escherichia coli, little is known about most cell shapes. For Caulobacter crescentus, polar stalk synthesis is tied to its dimorphic life cycle, and stalk elongation is regulated by phosphate availability. Based on the previous observation that C. crescentus stalks are lysozyme-resistant, we compared the composition of the peptidoglycan cell wall of stalks and cell bodies and identified key differences in peptidoglycan crosslinking. Cell body peptidoglycan contained primarily DD-crosslinks between meso-diaminopimelic acid and D-alanine residues, whereas stalk peptidoglycan had more LD-transpeptidation (meso-diaminopimelic acid-meso-diaminopimelic acid), mediated by LdtD. We determined that ldtD is dispensable for stalk elongation; rather, stalk LD-transpeptidation reflects an aging process associated with low peptidoglycan turnover in the stalk. We also found that lysozyme resistance is a structural consequence of LD-crosslinking. Despite no obvious selection pressure for LD-crosslinking or lysozyme resistance in C. crescentus, the correlation between these two properties was maintained in other organisms, suggesting that DAP-DAP crosslinking may be a general mechanism for regulating bacterial sensitivity to lysozyme.


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