Peptidoglycan (PG), a complex polymer composed of saccharide chains cross-linked by short peptides, is a critical component of the bacterial cell wall. PG synthesis has been extensively studied in model organisms but remains poorly understood in mycobacteria, a genus that includes the important human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). The principle PG synthetic enzymes have similar and, at times, overlapping functions. To determine how these are functionally organized, we carried out whole-genome transposon mutagenesis screens in Mtb strains deleted for ponA1, ponA2, and ldtB, major PG synthetic enzymes. We identified distinct factors required to sustain bacterial growth in the absence of each of these enzymes. We find that even the homologs PonA1 and PonA2 have unique sets of genetic interactions, suggesting there are distinct PG synthesis pathways in Mtb. Either PonA1 or PonA2 is required for growth of Mtb, but both genetically interact with LdtB, which has its own distinct genetic network. We further provide evidence that each interaction network is differentially susceptible to antibiotics. Thus, Mtb uses alternative pathways to produce PG, each with its own biochemical characteristics and vulnerabilities.
- Mycobacterium TuberculosisTransposon SequencingGenetic InteractionPeptidoglycanCell Wall