Penicillin binding proteins: key players in bacterial cell cycle and drug resistance processes

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2006 Sep;30(5):673-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2006.00024.x.


Bacterial cell division and daughter cell formation are complex mechanisms whose details are orchestrated by at least a dozen different proteins. Penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs), membrane-associated macromolecules which play key roles in the cell wall synthesis process, have been exploited for over 70 years as the targets of the highly successful beta-lactam antibiotics. The increasing incidence of beta-lactam resistant microorganisms, coupled to progress made in genomics, genetics and immunofluorescence microscopy techniques, have encouraged the intensive study of PBPs from a variety of bacterial species. In addition, the recent publication of high-resolution structures of PBPs from pathogenic organisms have shed light on the complex intertwining of drug resistance and cell division processes. In this review, we discuss structural, functional and biological features of such enzymes which, albeit having initially been identified several decades ago, are now being aggressively pursued as highly attractive targets for the development of novel antibiotherapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / cytology
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • beta-Lactam Resistance*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins