Growth of Enterococcus faecalis ΔplsX strains is restored by increased saturated fatty acid synthesis

Qi Zou, Huijuan Dong, John E. Cronan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Enterococcus faecalis acyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) phosphate acyltransferase PlsX plays an important role in phospholipid synthesis and exogenous fatty acid incorporation. Loss of plsX almost completely blocks growth by decreasing de novo phospholipid synthesis, which leads to abnormally long-chain acyl chains in the cell membrane phospholipids. The ΔplsX strain failed to grow without supplementation with an appropriate exogenous fatty acid. Introduction of a ΔfabT mutation into the ΔplsX strain to increase fatty acid synthesis allowed very weak growth. The ΔplsX strain accumulated suppressor mutants. One of these encoded a truncated β-ketoacyl-ACP synthase II (FabO) which restored normal growth and restored de novo phospholipid acyl chain synthesis by increasing saturated acyl-ACP synthesis. Saturated acyl-ACPs are cleaved by a thioesterase to provide free fatty acids for conversion to acyl-phosphates by the FakAB system. The acyl-phosphates are incorporated into position sn1 of the phospholipids by PlsY. We report the tesE gene encodes a thioesterase that can provide free fatty acids. However, we were unable to delete the chromosomal tesE gene to confirmthat it is the responsible enzyme. TesE readily cleaves unsaturated acyl-ACPs, whereas saturated acyl-ACPs are cleaved much more slowly. Overexpression of an E. faecalis enoyl-ACP reductase either FabK or FabI which results in high levels of saturated fatty acid synthesis also restored the growth of the ΔplsX strain. The ΔplsX strain grew faster in the presence of palmitic acid than in the presence of oleic acid with improvement in phospholipid acyl chain synthesis. Positional analysis of the acyl chain distribution in the phospholipids showed that saturated acyl chains dominate the sn1-position indicating a preference for saturated fatty acids at this position. High-level production of saturated acyl-ACPs is required to offsetthe marked preference of the TesE thioesterase for unsaturated acyl-ACPs and allow the initiation of phospholipid synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • growth
  • phospholipid synthesis
  • saturated fatty acids
  • sn1-position
  • suppressor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Growth of Enterococcus faecalis ΔplsX strains is restored by increased saturated fatty acid synthesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this