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Distinct and essential morphogenic functions for wall- and lipo-teichoic acids in Bacillus subtilis

DOI: 10.1038/emboj.2009.25 DOI Help
PMID: 19229300 PMID Help

Authors: K. Schirner (Newcastle University) , J. Errington (Newcastle University) , Rick Lewis (Newcastle University) , Jon Marles-wright (Newcastle University)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: The Embo Journal , VOL 28 (7) , PAGES 830-42

State: Published (Approved)
Published: April 2009

Abstract: Teichoic acids (TAs) are anionic polymers that constitute a major component of the cell wall in most Gram?positive bacteria. Despite decades of study, their function has remained unclear. TAs are covalently linked either to the cell wall peptidoglycan (wall TA (WTA)) or to the membrane (lipo?TA (LTA)). We have characterized the key enzyme of LTA synthesis in Bacillus subtilis, LTA synthase (LtaS). We show that LTA is needed for divalent cation homoeostasis and that its absence has severe effects on cell morphogenesis and cell division. Inactivation of both LTA and WTA is lethal and comparison of the individual mutants suggests that they have differentiated roles in elongation (WTA) and division (LTA). B. subtilis has four ltaS paralogues and we show how their roles are partially differentiated. Two paralogues have a redundant role in LTA synthesis during sporulation and their absence gives a novel absolute block in sporulation. The crystal structure of the extracytoplasmic part of LtaS, solved at 2.4?Å resolution, reveals a phosphorylated threonine residue, which provides clues about the catalytic mechanism and identifies the active site of the enzyme.

Journal Keywords: Bacterial; Cell;Crystallography; X-Ray; Morphogenesis; Mutation; Phosphorylation; Teichoic; Threonine

Subject Areas: Biology and Bio-materials

Instruments: I03-Macromolecular Crystallography

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