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Summary

The cell wall binding domains (CBD) of bacteriophage endolysins target the enzymes to their substrate in the bacterial peptidoglycan with extraordinary specificity. Despite strong interest in these enzymes as novel antimicrobials, little is known regarding their interaction with the bacterial wall and their binding ligands. We investigated the interaction of Listeria phage endolysin PlyP35 with carbohydrate residues present in the teichoic acid polymers on the peptidoglycan. Biochemical and genetic analyses revealed that CBD of PlyP35 specifically recognizes the N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) residue at position C4 of the polyribitol-phosphate subunits. Binding of CBDP35 could be prevented by removal of wall teichoic acid (WTA) polymers from cell walls, and inhibited by addition of purified WTAs or acetylated saccharides. We show that Listeria monocytogenes genes lmo2549 and lmo2550 are required for decoration of WTAs with GlcNAc. Inactivation of either gene resulted in a lack of GlcNAc glycosylation, and the mutants failed to bind CBDP35. We also report that the GlcNAc-deficient phenotype of L. monocytogenes strain WSLC 1442 is due to a small deletion in lmo2550, resulting in synthesis of a truncated gene product responsible for the glycosylation defect. Complementation with lmo2550 completely restored display of characteristic serovar 1/2 specific WTA and the wild-type phenotype.