All bacterial lipoproteins share a variably acylated N-terminal cysteine residue. Gram-negative bacterial lipoproteins are triacylated with a thioether-linked diacylglycerol moiety and an N-acyl chain. The latter is transferred from a membrane phospholipid donor to the a-amino terminus by the enzyme lipoprotein N-acyltransferase (Lnt), using an active-site cysteine thioester covalent intermediate. Many Gram-positive Firmicutes also have N-acylated lipoproteins, but the enzymes catalyzing N-acylation remain uncharacterized. The integral membrane protein Lit (lipoprotein intramolecular transacylase) from the opportunistic nosocomial pathogen Enterococcus faecalis synthesizes a specific lysoform lipoprotein (N-acyl S-monoacylglycerol) chemotype by an unknown mechanism that helps this bacterium evade immune recognition by the Toll-like receptor 2 family complex. Here, we used a deuterium-labeled lipoprotein substrate with reconstituted Lit to investigate intramolecular acyl chain transfer. We observed that Lit transfers the sn-2 ester-linked lipid from the diacylglycerol moiety to the a-amino terminus without forming a covalent thioester intermediate. Utilizing Mut-Seq to analyze an alanine scan library of Lit alleles, we identified two stretches of functionally important amino acid residues containing two conserved histidines. Topology maps based on reporter fusion assays and cysteine accessibility placed both histidines in the extracellular half of the cytoplasmic membrane. We propose a general acid base–promoted catalytic mechanism, invoking direct nucleophilic attack by the substrate a-amino group on the sn-2 ester to form a cyclic tetrahedral intermediate that then collapses to produce lyso-lipoprotein. Lit is a unique example of an intramolecular transacylase differentiated from that catalyzed by Lnt, and provides insight into the heterogeneity of bacterial lipoprotein biosynthetic systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology