Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.142, No.12, 5482-5486, 2020
Detection of Transport Intermediates in the Peptidoglycan Flippase MurJ Identifies Residues Essential for Conformational Cycling
Bacterial cell wall synthesis is an essential process in bacteria and one of the best targets for antibiotics. A critical step on this pathway is the export of the lipid-linked cell wall monomer, Lipid II, by its transporter MurJ. The mechanism by which MurJ mediates the transbilayer movement of Lipid II is not understood because intermediate states of this process have not been observed. Here we demonstrate a method to capture and detect interactions between MurJ and its substrate Lipid II by photo-crosslinking and subsequent biotin-tagging. We show that this method can be used to covalently capture intermediate transport states of Lipid II on MurJ in living cells. Using this strategy we probed several lethal arginine mutants and found that they retain appreciable substrate-binding ability despite being defective in Lipid II transport. We propose that Lipid II binding to these residues during transport induces a conformational change in MurJ required to proceed through the Lipid II transport cycle. The methods described to detect intermediate transport states of MurJ will be useful for characterizing mechanisms of inhibitors.