Discrete and overlapping functions of peptidoglycan synthases in growth, cell division and virulence ofListeria monocytogenes

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Upon ingestion of contaminated food,Listeria monocytogenescan cause serious infections in humans that are normally treated with β-lactam antibiotics. These targetListeria'sfive high molecular weight penicillin-binding proteins (HMW PBPs), which are required for peptidoglycan biosynthesis. The two bi-functional class A HMW PBPs PBP A1 and PBP A2 have transglycosylase and transpeptidase domains catalyzing glycan chain polymerization and peptide cross-linking, respectively, whereas the three class B HMW PBPs B1, B2 and B3 are monofunctional transpeptidases. The precise roles of these PBPs in the cell cycle are unknown. Here we show that green fluorescent protein (GFP)-PBP fusions localized either at the septum, the lateral wall or both, suggesting distinct and overlapping functions. Genetic data confirmed this view: PBP A1 and PBP A2 could not be inactivated simultaneously, and a conditional double mutant strain is largely inducer dependent. PBP B1 is required for rod-shape and PBP B2 for cross-wall biosynthesis and viability, whereas PBP B3 is dispensable for growth and cell division. PBP B1 depletion dramatically increased β-lactam susceptibilities and stimulated spontaneous autolysis but had no effect on peptidoglycan cross-linkage. Ourin vitrovirulence assays indicated that the complete set of all HMW PBPs is required for maximal virulence.

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