Structure and mechanism of TagA, a novel membrane-associated glycosyltransferase that produces wall teichoic acids in pathogenic bacteria
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Staphylococcus aureus and other bacterial pathogens affix wall teichoic acids (WTAs) to their surface. These highly abundant anionic glycopolymers have critical functions in bacterial physiology and their susceptibility to β-lactam antibiotics. The membrane-associated TagA glycosyltransferase (GT) catalyzes the first-committed step in WTA biosynthesis and is a founding member of the WecB/TagA/CpsF GT family, more than 6,000 enzymes that synthesize a range of extracellular polysaccharides through a poorly understood mechanism. Crystal structures of TagA from T. italicus in its apo- and UDP-bound states reveal a novel GT fold, and coupled with biochemical and cellular data define the mechanism of catalysis. We propose that enzyme activity is regulated by interactions with the bilayer, which trigger a structural change that facilitates proper active site formation and recognition of the enzyme's lipid-linked substrate. These findings inform upon the molecular basis of WecB/TagA/CpsF activity and could guide the development of new anti-microbial drugs.
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