Translocation of lipid II across the cytoplasmic membrane is essential in peptidoglycan biogenesis. Although most steps are understood, identifying the lipid II flippase has yielded conflicting results, and the lipid II binding properties of two candidate flippases—MurJ and FtsW—remain largely unknown. Here we apply native mass spectrometry to both proteins and characterize lipid II binding. We observed lower levels of lipid II binding to FtsW compared to MurJ, consistent with MurJ having a higher affinity. Site-directed mutagenesis of MurJ suggests that mutations at A29 and D269 attenuate lipid II binding to MurJ, whereas chemical modification of A29 eliminates binding. The antibiotic ramoplanin dissociates lipid II from MurJ, whereas vancomycin binds to form a stable complex with MurJ:lipid II. Furthermore, we reveal cardiolipins associate with MurJ but not FtsW, and exogenous cardiolipins reduce lipid II binding to MurJ. These observations provide insights into determinants of lipid II binding to MurJ and suggest roles for endogenous lipids in regulating substrate binding.
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The authors acknowledge funding from an MRC programme grant (MR/N020413/1), an ERC Advanced Grant ENABLE (641317) and a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award (104633/Z/14/Z). The authors thank W. Vollmer for providing C55-P and H.-Y. Yen, J. Gault and M. Agasid for useful discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Bolla, J., Sauer, J., Wu, D. et al. Direct observation of the influence of cardiolipin and antibiotics on lipid II binding to MurJ. Nature Chem 10, 363–371 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.2919
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