Structural perspective of peptidoglycan biosynthesis and assembly

Annu Rev Biochem. 2012;81:451-78. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-061809-112742.


The peptidoglycan biosynthetic pathway is a critical process in the bacterial cell and is exploited as a target for the design of antibiotics. This pathway culminates in the production of the peptidoglycan layer, which is composed of polymerized glycan chains with cross-linked peptide substituents. This layer forms the major structural component of the protective barrier known as the cell wall. Disruption in the assembly of the peptidoglycan layer causes a weakened cell wall and subsequent bacterial lysis. With bacteria responsible for both properly functioning human health (probiotic strains) and potentially serious illness (pathogenic strains), a delicate balance is necessary during clinical intervention. Recent research has furthered our understanding of the precise molecular structures, mechanisms of action, and functional interactions involved in peptidoglycan biosynthesis. This research is helping guide our understanding of how to capitalize on peptidoglycan-based therapeutics and, at a more fundamental level, of the complex machinery that creates this critical barrier for bacterial survival.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Peptidoglycan / biosynthesis*


  • Peptidoglycan