Peptidoglycan biosynthesis is driven by lipid transfer along enzyme-substrate affinity gradients.
Oluwole AO., Corey RA., Brown CM., Hernández-Rocamora VM., Stansfeld PJ., Vollmer W., Bolla JR., Robinson CV.
Maintenance of bacterial cell shape and resistance to osmotic stress by the peptidoglycan (PG) renders PG biosynthetic enzymes and precursors attractive targets for combating bacterial infections. Here, by applying native mass spectrometry, we elucidate the effects of lipid substrates on the PG membrane enzymes MraY, MurG, and MurJ. We show that dimerization of MraY is coupled with binding of the carrier lipid substrate undecaprenyl phosphate (C55-P). Further, we demonstrate the use of native MS for biosynthetic reaction monitoring and find that the passage of substrates and products is controlled by the relative binding affinities of the different membrane enzymes. Overall, we provide a molecular view of how PG membrane enzymes convey lipid precursors through favourable binding events and highlight possible opportunities for intervention.