Alternative Pathway to a Glycopeptide-Resistant Cell Wall in the Balhimycin Producer Amycolatopsis balhimycina Academic Article uri icon

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  • Balhimycin, a vancomycin-type glycopeptide, is a lipid II targeting antibiotic produced by Amycolatopsis balhimycina. A. balhimycina has developed a self-resistance mechanism based on the synergistic action of different enzymes resulting in modified peptidoglycan. The canonical resistance mechanism against glycopeptides is the synthesis of peptidoglycan precursors ending with acyl-d-alanyl-d-lactate (d-Ala-d-Lac) rather than acyl-d-alanyl-d-alanine (d-Ala-d-Ala). This reprogramming is the result of the enzymes VanH, VanA, and VanX. VanH and VanA are required to produce d-Ala-d-Lac; VanX cleaves cytosolic pools of d-Ala-d-Ala, thereby ensuring that peptidoglycan is enriched in d-Ala-d-Lac. In A. balhimycina, the ΔvanHAXAb mutant showed a reduced glycopeptide resistance in comparison to the wild type. Nevertheless, ΔvanHAXAb was paradoxically still able to produce d-Ala-d-Lac containing resistant cell wall precursors suggesting the presence of a novel alternative glycopeptide resistance mechanism. In silico analysis, inactivation studies, and biochemical assays led to the characterization of an enzyme, Ddl1Ab, as a paraloguous chromosomal d-Ala-d-Lac ligase able to complement the function of VanAAb in the ΔvanHAXAb mutant. Furthermore, A. balhimycina harbors a vanYAb gene encoding a d,d-carboxypeptidase. Transcriptional analysis revealed an upregulated expression of vanYAb in the ΔvanHAXAb mutant. VanYAb cleaves the endstanding d-Ala from the pentapeptide precursors, reducing the quantity of sensitive cell wall precursors in the absence of VanXAb. These findings represent an unprecedented coordinated layer of resistance mechanisms in a glycopeptide antibiotic producing bacterium.


  • Frasch, Hans-Joerg
  • Kalan, Lindsay
  • Kilian, Regina
  • Martin, Tobias
  • Wright, Gerard
  • Stegmann, Evi

publication date

  • June 12, 2015