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Open Access Research article

Phylogenetic distribution and membrane topology of the LytR-CpsA-Psr protein family

Judith Hübscher, Lucas Lüthy, Brigitte Berger-Bächi and Patricia Stutzmann Meier*

Author Affiliations

Institute of Medical Microbiology, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:617  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-617

Published: 19 December 2008



The bacterial cell wall is the target of many antibiotics and cell envelope constituents are critical to host-pathogen interactions. To combat resistance development and virulence, a detailed knowledge of the individual factors involved is essential. Members of the LytR-CpsA-Psr family of cell envelope-associated attenuators are relevant for β-lactam resistance, biofilm formation, and stress tolerance, and they are suggested to play a role in cell wall maintenance. However, their precise function is still unknown. This study addresses the occurrence as well as sequence-based characteristics of the LytR-CpsA-Psr proteins.


A comprehensive list of LytR-CpsA-Psr proteins was established, and their phylogenetic distribution and clustering into subgroups was determined. LytR-CpsA-Psr proteins were present in all Gram-positive organisms, except for the cell wall-deficient Mollicutes and one strain of the Clostridiales. In contrast, the majority of Gram-negatives did not contain LytR-CpsA-Psr family members. Despite high sequence divergence, the LytR-CpsA-Psr domains of different subclusters shared a highly similar, predicted mixed a/β-structure, and conserved charged residues. PhoA fusion experiments, using MsrR of Staphylococcus aureus, confirmed membrane topology predictions and extracellular location of its LytR-CpsA-Psr domain.


The LytR-CpsA-Psr domain is unique to bacteria. The presence of diverse subgroups within the LytR-CpsA-Psr family might indicate functional differences, and could explain variations in phenotypes of respective mutants reported. The identified conserved structural elements and amino acids are likely to be important for the function of the domain and will help to guide future studies of the LytR-CpsA-Psr proteins.