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Bacterial walls come tumbling down

structure. They then were able to repeat the feat to reveal the crystal structure of the enzyme combined with the animal antibiotic.

Their findings help reveal how the enzyme prepares to assemble the bacteria's sugar-coating by plucking sugars from a fat-sugar package known as lipid II. The antibiotic, which is another kind of sugar-lipid, probably mimics the lipid II molecule by tucking into a fold in the enzyme and taking up the space needed to bind to lipid II, the researchers believe. "We would like to see the enzyme in a complex with its natural substrates as well as with inhibitors," Lovering said. In the meantime, scientists now have the details of its shape and key contact points between enzyme and antibiotic.

The enzyme structure is the first ever solved of a member of a family of enzymes that remove sugars from lipids and attach them to other sugars. This process is used in a wide range of biochemical reactions, including allergic responses and cell signaling in cancer.


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Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
9-Mar-2007


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