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Aminoacylphosphatidylglycerol synthases (aaPGSs) are multiple peptide resistance factors that transfer amino acids from aminoacyl-tRNAs to phosphatidylglycerol (PG) in the cytoplasmic membrane. Aminoacylation of PG is used by bacteria to decrease the net negative charge of the cell envelope, diminishing affinity for charged molecules and allowing for adaptation to environmental changes. Lys-PGS, which transfers lysine to PG, is essential for the virulence of certain pathogens, providing resistance to both host cationic antimicrobial peptides and therapeutic antibiotics. Ala-PGS was also recently described, but little is known about the possible activities of other members of the highly diverse aaPGS family of proteins. Systematic deletion of the predicted membrane-inserted domains of several aaPGSs revealed that the carboxyl-terminal hydrophilic domain alone is sufficient for aminoacylphosphatidylglycerol transferase catalytic activity. In contrast to previously characterized aaPGSs, the Enterococcus faecium enzyme used an expanded repertoire of amino acids to modify PG with Ala, Arg, or Lys. Reexamination of previously characterized aaPGSs also revealed broader than anticipated substrate specificity, for example Bacillus subtilis Lys-PGS was shown to also catalyze Ala-PG synthesis. The relaxed substrate specificities of these aaPGSs allows for more elaborate remodeling of membrane lipids than previously thought, potentially providing bacteria that harbor these enzymes resistance to a broad spectrum of antibiotics and environmental stresses.


This article was originally published in Journal of Biological Chemistry, volume 284, in 2009.


American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology



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