The sugar nucleotide dTDP-L-rhamnose is critical for the biosynthesis of the Group A Carbohydrate, the molecular signature and virulence determinant of the human pathogen Group A Streptococcus (GAS). The final step of the four-step dTDP-L-rhamnose biosynthesis pathway is catalyzed by dTDP-4-dehydrorhamnose reductases (RmlD). RmlD from the Gram-negative bacterium Salmonella is the only structurally characterized family member and requires metal-dependent homo-dimerization for enzymatic activity. Using a biochemical and structural biology approach, we demonstrate that the only RmlD homologue from GAS, previously renamed GacA, functions in a novel monomeric manner. Sequence analysis of 213 Gram-negative and Gram-positive RmlD homologues predicts that enzymes from all Gram-positive species lack a dimerization motif and function as monomers. The enzymatic function of GacA was confirmed through heterologous expression of gacA in a S. mutans rmlD knockout, which restored attenuated growth and aberrant cell division. Finally, analysis of a saturated mutant GAS library using Tn-sequencing and generation of a conditional-expression mutant identified gacA as an essential gene for GAS. In conclusion, GacA is an essential monomeric enzyme in GAS and representative of monomeric RmlD enzymes in Gram-positive bacteria and a subset of Gram-negative bacteria. These results will help future screens for novel inhibitors of dTDP-L-rhamnose biosynthesis.
© 2015 The Authors. Molecular Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.