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J Bacteriol. 1993 Oct;175(19):6150-7.

Identification of the glmU gene encoding N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate uridyltransferase in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Laboratoire des Enveloppes Bact√©riennes et des Peptides, Universit√© Paris-Sud, Orsay, France.


The physiological properties of the EcoURF-1 open reading frame, which precedes the glmS gene at 84 min on the Escherichia coli chromosome (J. E. Walker, N. J. Gay, M. Saraste, and A. N. Eberle, Biochem. J. 224:799-815, 1984), were investigated. A thermosensitive conditional mutant in which the synthesis of the gene product was impaired at 43 degrees C was constructed. The inactivation of the gene in exponentially growing cells rapidly inhibited peptidoglycan synthesis. As a result, various alterations of cell shape were observed, and cell lysis finally occurred when the peptidoglycan content was 37% lower than that of normally growing cells. Analysis of the pools of peptidoglycan precursors revealed a large accumulation of N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate and the concomitant depletion of the pools of the seven peptidoglycan nucleotide precursors located downstream in the pathway, a result indicating that the mutational block was in the step leading from N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate and UTP to the formation of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine. In vitro assays showed that the overexpression of this gene in E. coli cells, directed by appropriate plasmids, led to a high overproduction (from 25- to 410-fold) of N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate uridyltransferase activity. This allowed us to purify this enzyme to homogeneity in only two chromatographic steps. The gene for this enzyme, which is essential for peptidoglycan and lipopolysaccharide biosyntheses, was designated glmU.

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