Septal Class A Penicillin-Binding Protein Activity and ld-Transpeptidases Mediate Selection of Colistin-Resistant Lipooligosaccharide-Deficient Acinetobacter baumannii

mBio. 2021 Jan 5;12(1):e02185-20. doi: 10.1128/mBio.02185-20.


Despite dogma suggesting that lipopolysaccharide/lipooligosaccharide (LOS) was essential for viability of Gram-negative bacteria, several Acinetobacter baumannii clinical isolates produced LOS- colonies after colistin selection. Inactivation of the conserved class A penicillin-binding protein, PBP1A, was a compensatory mutation that supported isolation of LOS-A. baumannii, but the impact of PBP1A mutation was not characterized. Here, we show that the absence of PBP1A causes septation defects and that these, together with ld-transpeptidase activity, support isolation of LOS-A. baumannii PBP1A contributes to proper cell division in A. baumannii, and its absence induced cell chaining. Only isolates producing three or more septa supported selection of colistin-resistant LOS-A. baumannii PBP1A was enriched at the midcell, where the divisome complex facilitates daughter cell formation, and its localization was dependent on glycosyltransferase activity. Transposon mutagenesis showed that genes encoding two putative ld-transpeptidases (LdtJ and LdtK) became essential in the PBP1A mutant. Both LdtJ and LdtK were required for selection of LOS-A. baumannii, but each had distinct enzymatic activities in the cell. Together, these findings demonstrate that defects in PBP1A glycosyltransferase activity and ld-transpeptidase activity remodel the cell envelope to support selection of colistin-resistant LOS-A. baumanniiIMPORTANCE The increasing prevalence of antibiotic treatment failure associated with Gram-negative bacterial infections highlights an urgent need to develop new alternative therapeutic strategies. The last-line antimicrobial colistin (polymyxin E) targets the ubiquitous outer membrane lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/LOS membrane anchor, lipid A, which is essential for viability of most diderms. However, several LOS-Acinetobacter baumannii clinical isolates were recovered after colistin selection, suggesting a conserved resistance mechanism. Here, we characterized a role for penicillin-binding protein 1A in A. baumannii septation and intrinsic β-lactam susceptibility. We also showed that defects in PBP1A glycosyltransferase activity and ld-transpeptidase activity support isolation of colistin-resistant LOS-A. baumannii.

Keywords: Acinetobacter; Gram-negative; ld-transpeptidase; lipooligosaccharide; penicillin-binding protein 1A; peptidoglycan; septation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acinetobacter Infections / microbiology
  • Acinetobacter baumannii / genetics*
  • Acinetobacter baumannii / isolation & purification
  • Acinetobacter baumannii / metabolism*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Colistin / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lipid A / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / deficiency*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / genetics
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Peptidoglycan Glycosyltransferase
  • Peptidyl Transferases / metabolism*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Lipid A
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins
  • lipid-linked oligosaccharides
  • Peptidyl Transferases
  • Peptidoglycan Glycosyltransferase
  • Colistin