The bacterial cell wall maintains cell shape and protects against bursting by turgor. A major constituent of the cell wall is peptidoglycan (PG), which is continuously modified to enable cell growth and differentiation through the concerted activity of biosynthetic and hydrolytic enzymes. Streptomycetes are Gram-positive bacteria with a complex multicellular life style alternating between mycelial growth and the formation of reproductive spores. This involves cell wall remodeling at apical sites of the hyphae during cell elongation and autolytic degradation of the vegetative mycelium during the onset of development and antibiotic production. Here, we show that there are distinct differences in the cross-linking and maturation of the PGs between exponentially growing vegetative hyphae and the aerial hyphae that undergo sporulation. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis identified over 80 different muropeptides, revealing that major PG hydrolysis takes place over the course of mycelial growth. Half of the dimers lacked one of the disaccharide units in transition-phase cells, most likely due to autolytic activity. The deacetylation of MurNAc to MurN was particularly pronounced in spores and strongly reduced in sporulation mutants with a deletion of bldD or whiG, suggesting that MurN is developmentally regulated. Altogether, our work highlights the dynamic and growth phase-dependent changes in the composition of the PG in Streptomyces.IMPORTANCE Streptomycetes are bacteria with a complex lifestyle and are model organisms for bacterial multicellularity. From a single spore, a large multigenomic multicellular mycelium is formed, which differentiates to form spores. Programmed cell death is an important event during the onset of morphological differentiation. In this work, we provide new insights into the changes in the peptidoglycan composition and over time, highlighting changes over the course of development and between growing mycelia and spores. This revealed dynamic changes in the peptidoglycan when the mycelia aged, with extensive peptidoglycan hydrolysis and, in particular, an increase in the proportion of 3-3 cross-links. Additionally, we identified a muropeptide that accumulates predominantly in the spores and may provide clues toward spore development.
van der Aart, L. T., Spijksma, G. K., Harms, A., Vollmer, W., Hankemeier, T., & van Wezel, G. P. (2018). High-Resolution Analysis of the Peptidoglycan Composition in Streptomyces coelicolor. Journal of Bacteriology, 200(20), [e00290-18]. https://doi.org/10.1128/JB.00290-18