Dual roles of FmtA in Staphylococcus aureus cell wall biosynthesis and autolysis

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2012 Jul;56(7):3797-805. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00187-12. Epub 2012 May 7.


The fmtA gene is a member of the Staphylococcus aureus core cell wall stimulon. The FmtA protein interacts with β-lactams through formation of covalent species. Here, we show that FmtA has weak D-Ala-D-Ala-carboxypeptidase activity and is capable of covalently incorporating C14-Gly into cell walls. The fluorescence microscopy study showed that the protein is localized to the cell division septum. Furthermore, we show that wall teichoic acids interact specifically with FmtA and mediate recruitment of FmtA to the S. aureus cell wall. Subjection of S. aureus to FmtA concentrations of 0.1 μM or less induces autolysis and biofilm production. This effect requires the presence of wall teichoic acids. At FmtA concentrations greater than 0.2 μM, autolysis and biofilm formation in S. aureus are repressed and growth is enhanced. Our findings indicate dual roles of FmtA in S. aureus growth, whereby at low concentrations, FmtA may modulate the activity of the major autolysin (AtlA) of S. aureus and, at high concentrations, may participate in synthesis of cell wall peptidoglycan. These two roles of FmtA may reflect dual functions of FmtA in the absence and presence of cell wall stress, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriolysis / genetics
  • Bacteriolysis / physiology*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase / metabolism
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Teichoic Acids / metabolism


  • FmtA protein, Staphylococcus aureus
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins
  • Teichoic Acids
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase