Peptidoglycan Synthesis Pathways in Tannerella forsythia
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Periodontal disease is strongly associated with the pathogen Tannerella forsythia , a Gram-negative oral bacterium that colonizes sub-gingival crevices as biofilm. This bacterium has an absolute requirement for exogenous N -acetylmuramic acid (MurNAc) for growth. A repeating disaccharide unit of MurNAc and N -acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) amino sugars forms the peptidoglycan backbone in all bacteria. Based on the genome analysis, T. forsythia lacks mandatory enzymes needed for the de novo synthesis of MurNAc. Since T. forsythia is unable to synthesize its own peptidoglycan precursors, it relies on the environmental MurNAc and peptidoglycan fragments, which are made available in the oral cavity because of their release during cell wall remodeling of the cohabiting bacteria. This study was undertaken to understand the MurNAc and peptidoglycan utilization mechanisms in T. forsythia . To this end, we identified and characterized components of a genetic cluster comprising genes coding for putative enzymes involved in peptidoglycan synthesis and turnover. These studies led to the identification of a novel inner-membrane transporter of MurNAc and the utilization and regulatory mechanisms of peptidoglycan in T. forsythia .