Bacterial cells are covered with peptidoglycan (PG) layer(s), serving as the cellular exoskeleton. The PG sacculus changes its shape during cell growth, and thus both the synthesis and disassembly of PG are important for cell proliferation. In Bacillus subtilis, four DL-endopeptidases (DLEPases; LytE, LytF, CwlO and CwlS) are involved in the maintenance of cell morphology. The lytE cwlO double mutant exhibits synthetic lethality and defective cell elongation, while the lytE lytF cwlS triple mutant exhibits defective cell separation, albeit with septum formation. LytE is involved in both cell separation and elongation. We propose that DLEPases have varied roles in cell separation and elongation. To determine these roles, the catalytic domain of LytE was substituted with another catalytic domain that digests the other bonds in PG. By using the chimeric enzymes, we assessed the suppression of the synthetic lethality by the cell elongation defect and the disruption of chain morphology by the cell separation defect. All the constructed chimeric enzymes suppressed the cell separation defect, restoring the chain morphology. Digestion at any position of PG broke the linkage between two daughter cells, releasing them from each other. However, only D, Dendopeptidases suppressed the lack of DLEPase in the lytE cwlO double mutant. This indicated that the release of tension on the expanding PG sacculus is not the sole essential function of DLEPases. Considering that the structure of the digested PG is important for cell elongation, the digested product might be reused in the growth process in some way.
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