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J Bacteriol. 1997 Mar;179(5):1580-3.

Pesticin displays muramidase activity.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie, Abteilung Biochemie, Universität Tübingen, Germany.


Pesticin of Yersinia pestis is the only bacteriocin that converts sensitive cells to stable spheroplasts. The amino acid sequence of pesticin as derived from the nucleotide sequence shows no similarity to those of any of the bacteriocins. The unique properties of pesticin prompted an investigation of its mode of action. Since the pesticin plasmid does not encode a lysis protein for release of pesticin into the culture medium, pesticin was isolated from cells and purified to electrophoretic homogeneity. Highly purified pesticin degraded murein and murein glycan strands lacking the peptide side chains to products that were similar to those obtained by lysozyme, as revealed by high-resolution high-pressure liquid chromatography. After reduction of the murein degradation products with tritium-labeled sodium borohydride, acid hydrolysis, and separation of the products by thin-layer chromatography, radiolabeled muraminitol was identified. This indicates that pesticin is a muramidase, and not an N-acetyl-glucosaminidase, that converts cells into stable spheroplasts by slowly degrading murein.

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