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Keywords:

  • bacterial cell wall;
  • peptidoglycan;
  • UDP-N-acetylglucosamine;
  • UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid;
  • d-alanine;
  • d-glutamic acid

Abstract

The biosynthesis of bacterial cell wall peptidoglycan is a complex process that involves enzyme reactions that take place in the cytoplasm (synthesis of the nucleotide precursors) and on the inner side (synthesis of lipid-linked intermediates) and outer side (polymerization reactions) of the cytoplasmic membrane. This review deals with the cytoplasmic steps of peptidoglycan biosynthesis, which can be divided into four sets of reactions that lead to the syntheses of (1) UDP-N-acetylglucosamine from fructose 6-phosphate, (2) UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid from UDP-N-acetylglucosamine, (3) UDP-N-acetylmuramyl-pentapeptide from UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid and (4) d-glutamic acid and dipeptide d-alanyl-d-alanine. Recent data concerning the different enzymes involved are presented. Moreover, special attention is given to (1) the chemical and enzymatic synthesis of the nucleotide precursor substrates that are not commercially available and (2) the search for specific inhibitors that could act as antibacterial compounds.