Peptidoglycan Production by an Insect-Bacterial Mosaic

De Anna C. Bublitz, Grayson L. Chadwick, John S. Magyar, Kelsi M. Sandoz, Diane M. Brooks, Stéphane Mesnage, Mark S. Ladinsky, Arkadiy I. Garber, Pamela J. Bjorkman, Victoria J. Orphan, John P. McCutcheon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Peptidoglycan (PG) is a defining feature of bacteria, involved in cell division, shape, and integrity. We previously reported that several genes related to PG biosynthesis were horizontally transferred from bacteria to the nuclear genome of mealybugs. Mealybugs are notable for containing a nested bacteria-within-bacterium endosymbiotic structure in specialized insect cells, where one bacterium, Moranella, lives in the cytoplasm of another bacterium, Tremblaya. Here we show that horizontally transferred genes on the mealybug genome work together with genes retained on the Moranella genome to produce a PG layer exclusively at the Moranella cell periphery. Furthermore, we show that an insect protein encoded by a horizontally transferred gene of bacterial origin is transported into the Moranella cytoplasm. These results provide a striking parallel to the genetic and biochemical mosaicism found in organelles, and prove that multiple horizontally transferred genes can become integrated into a functional pathway distributed between animal and bacterial endosymbiont genomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-712.e7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 17 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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