Document Type



The 3D structure of the bacterial peptidoglycan, the major constit- uent of the cell wall, is one of the most important, yet still unsolved, structural problems in biochemistry. The peptidoglycan comprises alternating N-acetylglucosamine (NAG) and N-acetylmu- ramic disaccharide (NAM) saccharides, the latter of which has a peptide stem. Adjacent peptide stems are cross-linked by the transpeptidase enzymes of cell wall biosynthesis to provide the cell wall polymer with the structural integrity required by the bacte- rium. The cell wall and its biosynthetic enzymes are targets of antibiotics. The 3D structure of the cell wall has been elusive because of its complexity and the lack of pure samples. Herein we report the 3D solution structure as determined by NMR of the 2-kDa NAG-NAM(pentapeptide)-NAG-NAM(pentapeptide) syn- thetic fragment of the cell wall. The glycan backbone of this peptidoglycan forms a right-handed helix with a periodicity of three for the NAG-NAM repeat (per turn of the helix). The first two amino acids of the pentapeptide adopt a limited number of conformations. Based on this structure a model for the bacterial cell wall is proposed.


Biochemistry | Molecular Biology


This is the publisher's PDF version, previously appearing the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America., 2006, v. 103, p. 4404-9.