A phylum level analysis reveals lipoprotein biosynthesis to be a fundamental property of bacteria
Bacterial lipoproteins are proteins that are post-translationally modified with a diacylglyceride at an N-terminal cysteine, which serves to tether these proteins to the outer face of the plasma membrane or to the outer membrane. This paper reviews recent insights into the enzymology of bacterial lipoprotein biosynthesis and localization. Moreover, we use bioinformatic analyses of bacterial lipoprotein signal peptide features and of the key biosynthetic enzymes to consider the distribution of lipoprotein biosynthesis at the phylum level. These analyses support the important conclusion that lipoprotein biosynthesis is a fundamental pathway utilized across the domain bacteria. Moreover, with the exception of a small number of sequences likely to derive from endosymbiont genomes, the enzymes of bacterial lipoprotein biosynthesis appear unique to bacteria, making this pathway an attractive target for the development of novel antimicrobials. Whilst lipoproteins with comparable signal peptide features are encoded in the genomes of Archaea, it is clear that these lipoproteins have a distinctive biosynthetic pathway that has yet to be characterized.