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Eliminating a Set of four penicillin binding proteins triggers the Rcs phosphorelay and Cpx stress responses in escherichia coli

AuthorsEvans, Kerry L.; Kannan, Suresh; Li, G.; Pedro, Miguel Ángel de ; Young, Keving D.
Issue Date2013
PublisherAmerican Society for Microbiology
CitationJournal of Bacteriology 195: 4415- 4424 (2013)
AbstractPenicillin binding proteins (PBPs) are responsible for synthesizing and modifying the bacterial cell wall, and in Escherichia coli the loss of several nonessential low-molecular-weight PBPs gives rise to abnormalities in cell shape and division. To determine whether these proteins help connect the flagellar basal body to the peptidoglycan wall, we surveyed a set of PBP mutants and found that motility in an agar migration assay was compromised by the simultaneous absence of four enzymes: PBP4, PBP5, PBP7, and AmpH. A wild-type copy of any one of these restored migration, and complementation depended on the integrity of the PBP active-site serine. However, the migration defect was caused by the absence of flagella instead of improper flagellar assembly. Migration was restored if the flhDC genes were overexpressed or if the rcsB or cpxR genes were deleted. Thus, migration was inhibited because the Rcs and Cpx stress response systems were induced in the absence of these four specific PBPs. Furthermore, in this situation Rcs induction depended on the presence of CpxR. The results imply that small changes in peptidoglycan structure are sufficient to activate these stress responses, suggesting that a specific cell wall fragment may be the signal being sensed. The fact that four PBPs must be inactivated may explain why large perturbations to the envelope are required to induce stress responses. © 2013, American Society for Microbiology.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1128/JB.00596-13
issn: 0021-9193
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