Chemometric Analysis of Bacterial Peptidoglycan Reveals Atypical Modifications That Empower the Cell Wall against Predatory Enzymes and Fly Innate Immunity
Peptidoglycan is a fundamental structure for most bacteria. It contributes to the cell morphology and provides cell wall integrity against environmental insults. While several studies have reported a significant degree of variability in the chemical composition and organization of peptidoglycan in the domain Bacteria, the real diversity of this polymer is far from fully explored. This work exploits rapid ultraperformance liquid chromatography and multivariate data analysis to uncover peptidoglycan chemical diversity in the Class Alphaproteobacteria, a group of Gram negative bacteria that are highly heterogeneous in terms of metabolism, morphology and life-styles. Indeed, chemometric analyses revealed novel peptidoglycan structures conserved in Acetobacteria: amidation at the alpha-(L)-carboxyl of meso-diaminopimelic acid and the presence of muropeptides cross-linked by (1-3) L-Ala-D-(meso)diaminopimelate cross-links. Both structures are growth-controlled modifications that influence sensitivity to Type VI secretion system peptidoglycan endopeptidases and recognition by the Drosophila innate immune system, suggesting relevant roles in the environmental adaptability of these bacteria. Collectively our findings demonstrate the discriminative power of chemometric tools on large cell wall-chromatographic data sets to discover novel peptidoglycan structural properties in bacteria.