Bacillithiol (BSH), an α-anomeric glycoside of l-cysteinyl-d-glucosaminyl-l-malate, is a major low molecular weight thiol found in low GC Gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Like other low molecular weight thiols, BSH is likely involved in protection against a number of stresses. We examined S. aureus transposon mutants disrupted in each of the three genes associated with BSH biosynthesis. These mutants are sensitive to alkylating stress, oxidative stress, and metal stress indicating that BSH and BSH-dependent enzymes are involved in protection of S. aureus. We further demonstrate that BshB, a deacetylase involved in the second step of BSH biosynthesis, also acts as a BSH conjugate amidase and identify S. aureus USA 300 LAC 2626 as a BSH-S-transferase, which is able to conjugate chlorodinitrobenzene, cerulenin, and rifamycin to BSH.
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