T. den Blaauwen
M. van Nieuwenhze
- Factors essential for L,D-transpeptidase-mediated peptidoglycan cross-linking and β-lactam resistance in Escherichia coli
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- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)
The target of β-lactam antibiotics is the D,D-transpeptidase activity of penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) for synthesis of 4→3 cross-links in the peptidoglycan of bacterial cell walls. Unusual 3→3 cross-links formed by L,D-transpeptidases were first detected in Escherichia coli more than four decades ago, however no phenotype has previously been associated with their synthesis. Here we show that production of the L,D-transpeptidase YcbB in combination with elevated synthesis of the (p)ppGpp alarmone by RelA lead to full bypass of the D,D-transpeptidase activity of PBPs and to broad-spectrum β-lactam resistance. Production of YcbB was therefore sufficient to switch the role of (p)ppGpp from antibiotic tolerance to high-level β-lactam resistance. This observation identifies a new mode of peptidoglycan polymerization in E. coli that relies on an unexpectedly small number of enzyme activities comprising the glycosyltransferase activity of class A PBP1b and the D,D-carboxypeptidase activity of DacA in addition to the L,D-transpeptidase activity of YcbB.
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