Diverse functions for acyltransferase-3 proteins in the modification of bacterial cell surfaces

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The acylation of sugars, most commonly via acetylation, is a widely used mechanism in bacteria that uses a simple chemical modification to confer useful traits. For structures like lipopolysaccharide, capsule and peptidoglycan, that function outside of the cytoplasm, their acylation during export or post-synthesis requires transport of an activated acyl group across the membrane. In bacteria this function is most commonly linked to a family of integral membrane proteins - acyltransferase-3 (AT3). Numerous studies examining production of diverse extracytoplasmic sugar-containing structures have identified roles for these proteins in O-acylation. Many of the phenotypes conferred by the action of AT3 proteins influence host colonisation and environmental survival, as well as controlling the properties of biotechnologically important polysaccharides and the modification of antibiotics and antitumour drugs by Actinobacteria. Herein we present the first systematic review, to our knowledge, of the functions of bacterial AT3 proteins, revealing an important protein family involved in a plethora of systems of importance to bacterial function that is still relatively poorly understood at the mechanistic level. By defining and comparing this set of functions we draw out common themes in the structure and mechanism of this fascinating family of membrane-bound enzymes, which, due to their role in host colonisation in many pathogens, could offer novel targets for the development of antimicrobials.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalMicrobiology (Reading, England)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2022


  • O-acetylation
  • O-succinylation
  • acetyl-CoA
  • Antibiotics
  • Capsule
  • Exopolysaccharide
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • Membrane-bound acyltransferase
  • Mycolic acid
  • Nodulation

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