Penicillin-Binding Proteins (PBPs) and Bacterial Cell Wall Elongation Complexes

  • Mayara M. Miyachiro
  • Carlos Contreras-Martel
  • Andréa DessenEmail author
Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 93)


The bacterial cell wall is the validated target of mainstream antimicrobials such as penicillin and vancomycin. Penicillin and other β-lactams act by targeting Penicillin-Binding Proteins (PBPs), enzymes that play key roles in the biosynthesis of the main component of the cell wall, the peptidoglycan. Despite the spread of resistance towards these drugs, the bacterial cell wall continues to be a major Achilles’ heel for microbial survival, and the exploration of the cell wall formation machinery is a vast field of work that can lead to the development of novel exciting therapies. The sheer complexity of the cell wall formation process, however, has created a significant challenge for the study of the macromolecular interactions that regulate peptidoglycan biosynthesis. New developments in genetic and biochemical screens, as well as different aspects of structural biology, have shed new light on the importance of complexes formed by PBPs, notably within the cell wall elongation machinery. This chapter summarizes structural and functional details of PBP complexes involved in the periplasmic and membrane steps of peptidoglycan biosynthesis with a focus on cell wall elongation. These assemblies could represent interesting new targets for the eventual development of original antibacterials.


Penicillin-Binding proteins (PBPs) Peptidoglycan Cell wall elongation Protein complexes Periplasm Membrane proteins 



Work in the Dessen lab on Penicillin-Binding Proteins and cell wall elongation complexes is supported by grants from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-18-CE11-0019), FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation) grant 2017/12,436-9, and the Laboratoire Intenational Associé (LIA) BACWALL (CNRS). M. M. M. was supported by grant 2013/02451-0 from FAPESP.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mayara M. Miyachiro
    • 1
  • Carlos Contreras-Martel
    • 2
  • Andréa Dessen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Brazilian Biosciences National Laboratory (LNBio)CNPEMCampinasBrazil
  2. 2.Univ Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, CEA, Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS), Bacterial Pathogenesis GroupGrenobleFrance

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