There have been considerable strides made in the characterization of the dispensability of teichoic acid biosynthesis genes in recent years. A notable omission thus far has been an early gene in teichoic acid synthesis encoding the N-acetylmannosamine transferase (tagA in Bacillus subtilis; tarA in Staphylococcus aureus), which adds N-acetylmannosamine to complete the synthesis of undecaprenol pyrophosphate-linked disaccharide. Here, we show that the N-acetylmannosamine transferases are dispensable for growth in vitro, making this biosynthetic enzyme the last dispensable gene in the pathway, suggesting that tagA (or tarA) encodes the first committed step in wall teichoic acid synthesis.


D'Elia MA, Henderson JA, Beveridge TJ, Heinrichs DE, Brown ED.


J Bacteriol. 2009 Jun;191(12):4030-4. doi: 10.1128/JB.00611-08. Epub 2009 Apr 17.