N-acetylmuramic acid 6-phosphate lyases (MurNAc etherases): role in cell wall metabolism, distribution, structure, and mechanism

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2008 Mar;65(6):928-39. doi: 10.1007/s00018-007-7399-x.


MurNAc etherases cleave the unique D-lactyl ether bond of the bacterial cell wall sugar N-acetylmuramic acid (MurNAc). Members of this newly discovered family of enzymes are widely distributed among bacteria and are required to utilize peptidoglycan fragments obtained either from the environment or from the endogenous cell wall (i.e., recycling). MurNAc etherases are strictly dependent on the substrate MurNAc possessing a free reducing end and a phosphoryl group at C6. They carry a single conserved sugar phosphate isomerase/sugar phosphate-binding (SIS) domain to which MurNAc 6-phosphate is bound. Two subunits form an enzymatically active homodimer that structurally resembles the isomerase module of the double-SIS domain protein GlmS, the glucosamine 6-phosphate synthase. Structural comparison provides insights into the two-step lyase-type reaction mechanism of MurNAc etherases: beta-elimination of the D-lactic acid substituent proceeds through a 2,3-unsaturated sugar intermediate to which water is subsequently added.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Wall / enzymology*
  • Humans
  • Lyases / chemistry
  • Lyases / genetics
  • Lyases / metabolism*
  • Muramic Acids / chemistry
  • Muramic Acids / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Sugar Phosphates / chemistry
  • Sugar Phosphates / metabolism*


  • Muramic Acids
  • Sugar Phosphates
  • Lyases