Cytoplasmic steps of peptidoglycan biosynthesis

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2008 Mar;32(2):168-207. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2008.00104.x. Epub 2008 Feb 11.


The biosynthesis of bacterial cell wall peptidoglycan is a complex process that involves enzyme reactions that take place in the cytoplasm (synthesis of the nucleotide precursors) and on the inner side (synthesis of lipid-linked intermediates) and outer side (polymerization reactions) of the cytoplasmic membrane. This review deals with the cytoplasmic steps of peptidoglycan biosynthesis, which can be divided into four sets of reactions that lead to the syntheses of (1) UDP-N-acetylglucosamine from fructose 6-phosphate, (2) UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid from UDP-N-acetylglucosamine, (3) UDP-N-acetylmuramyl-pentapeptide from UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid and (4) D-glutamic acid and dipeptide D-alanyl-D-alanine. Recent data concerning the different enzymes involved are presented. Moreover, special attention is given to (1) the chemical and enzymatic synthesis of the nucleotide precursor substrates that are not commercially available and (2) the search for specific inhibitors that could act as antibacterial compounds.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biosynthetic Pathways*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Multienzyme Complexes / chemistry
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Peptidoglycan / biosynthesis*
  • Phosphoglucomutase / chemistry
  • Phosphoglucomutase / metabolism
  • Uridine Diphosphate N-Acetylglucosamine / biosynthesis


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • GlmU protein, E coli
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Peptidoglycan
  • component S, glutamate mutase protein, Bacteria
  • Uridine Diphosphate N-Acetylglucosamine
  • phosphoglucosamine mutase
  • Phosphoglucomutase