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Mol Microbiol. 2014 Jul;93(1):113-28. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12643. Epub 2014 May 23.

The bacterial septal ring protein RlpA is a lytic transglycosylase that contributes to rod shape and daughter cell separation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Department of Microbiology, Carver College of Medicine, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 52242, USA.


Rare lipoprotein A (RlpA) is a widely conserved outer membrane protein of unknown function that has previously only been studied in Escherichia coli, where it localizes to the septal ring and scattered foci along the lateral wall, but mutants have no phenotypic change. Here we show rlpA mutants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa form chains of short, fat cells when grown in low osmotic strength media. These morphological defects indicate RlpA is needed for efficient separation of daughter cells and maintenance of rod shape. Analysis of peptidoglycan sacculi from an rlpA deletion mutant revealed increased tetra and hexasaccharides that lack stem peptides (hereafter called 'naked glycans'). Incubation of these sacculi with purified RlpA resulted in release of naked glycans containing 1,6-anhydro N-acetylmuramic acid ends. RlpA did not degrade sacculi from wild-type cells unless the sacculi were subjected to a limited digestion with an amidase to remove some of the stem peptides. Thus, RlpA is a lytic transglycosylase with a strong preference for naked glycan strands. We propose that RlpA activity is regulated in vivo by substrate availability, and that amidases and RlpA work in tandem to degrade peptidoglycan in the division septum and lateral wall.

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