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Cell morphology maintenance in Bacillus subtilis through balanced peptidoglycan synthesis and hydrolysis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jad Sassine, Dr Richard DanielORCiD, Professor Waldemar Vollmer



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020, The Author(s).The peptidoglycan layer is responsible for maintaining bacterial cell shape and permitting cell division. Cell wall growth is facilitated by peptidoglycan synthases and hydrolases and is potentially modulated by components of the central carbon metabolism. In Bacillus subtilis, UgtP synthesises the glucolipid precursor for lipoteichoic acid and has been suggested to function as a metabolic sensor governing cell size. Here we show that ugtP mutant cells have increased levels of cell wall precursors and changes in their peptidoglycan that suggest elevated dl-endopeptidase activity. The additional deletion of lytE, encoding a dl-endopeptidase important for cell elongation, in the ugtP mutant background produced cells with severe shape defects. Interestingly, the ugtP lytE mutant recovered normal rod-shape by acquiring mutations that decreased the expression of the peptidoglycan synthase PBP1. Together our results suggest that cells lacking ugtP must re-adjust the balance between peptidoglycan synthesis and hydrolysis to maintain proper cell morphology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sassine J, Sousa J, Lalk M, Daniel RA, Vollmer W

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2020

Volume: 10

Online publication date: 21/10/2020

Acceptance date: 28/09/2020

Date deposited: 02/11/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Research


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-74609-5


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Funder referenceFunder name
317338Commission of the European Communities