Studies on prolysostaphin processing and characterization of the lysostaphin immunity factor (Lif) of Staphylococcus simulans biovar staphylolyticus

Mol Microbiol. 1997 Mar;23(6):1251-65. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1997.2911657.x.


Lysostaphin is an extracellular glycylglycine endopeptidase produced by Staphylococcus simulans biovar staphylolyticus ATCC1362 that lyses staphylococcal cells by hydrolysing the polyglycine interpeptide bridges of the peptidoglycan. Renewed analysis of the sequence of the lysostaphin gene (lss), and the sequencing of the amino-terminus of purified prolysostaphin and of mature lysostaphin revealed that lysostaphin is organized as a preproprotein of 493 amino acids (aa), with a signal peptide consisting of 36 aa, a propeptide of 211 aa from which 195 aa are organized in 15 tandem repeats of 13 aa length, and a mature protein of 246 aa. Prolysostaphin is processed in the culture supernatant of S. simulans biovar staphylolyticus by an extracellular cysteine protease. Although prolysostaphin was staphylolytically active, the mature lysostaphin was about 4.5-fold more active. The controlled expression in Staphylococcus carnosus of lss and lss with deletions in the prepropeptide region indicated that the tandem repeats of the propeptide are not necessary for protein export or activation of Lss, but keep Lss in a less active state. Intracellularly expressed pro- and mature lysostaphin exert staphylolytic activity in cell-free extracts, but do not affect growth of the corresponding clones. We characterized a lysostaphin immunity factor gene (lif) which is located in the opposite direction to lss. The expression of lif in S. carnosus led to an increase in the serine/glycine ratio of the interpeptide bridges of peptidoglycan from 2 to 35%, suggesting that lysostaphin immunity depends on serine incorporation into the interpeptide bridge. If, in addition to lif, lss is co-expressed the serine/glycine ratio is further increased to 58%, suggesting that Lss selects for optimal serine incorporation. Lif shows similarity to FemA and FemB proteins, which are involved in the biosynthesis of the glycine interpeptide bridge of staphylococcal peptidoglycan. In contrast to that of Lif, the production of FemA and FemB in S. carnosus does not cause lysostaphin immunity. The putative tRNASer gene located downstream of lss had no recognizable influence on lysostaphin immunity. lss and lif are flanked by insertion sequences, suggesting that S. simulans biovar staphylolyticus received lif and lss by horizontal gene transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / genetics
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Lysostaphin / immunology
  • Lysostaphin / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptidoglycan / metabolism
  • Protein Precursors / chemistry
  • Protein Precursors / physiology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology
  • RNA, Transfer, Ser / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer, Ser / physiology
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid / physiology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Staphylococcus / genetics*
  • Staphylococcus / physiology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Peptidoglycan
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Transfer, Ser
  • Serine
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Lysostaphin

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U66880
  • GENBANK/U66883