Cell division is a dynamic process ending by separation of the daughter cells. This final step requires the cleavage of the murein septum synthetized during cell division. In Streptococcus thermophilus, cse plays an important role in cell separation. Cse protein contains, at its N-terminal end, a signal peptide and a putative LysM motif suggesting that it is secreted and able to bind to the cell wall. Furthermore, the C-terminus of Cse carries a putative cysteine, histidine-dependent amidohydrolases/peptidases (CHAP) domain conferring to the protein a potential catalytic activity. To gain insight into the role of Cse in the cell division process, in silico analysis of the Firmicutes proteins displaying CHAP-related domain was undertaken. This work allowed us to distinguish and characterize within the Firmicutes the 2 families of proteins (CHAP and NlpC/p60) belonging to the CHAP superfamily. These 2 families regroup mainly peptidoglycan hydrolases. Data from the literature indicate that NlpC/p60 and CHAP proteins cleave distinct peptidoglycan bonds. Among the enzymes characterized within the Firmicutes, NlpC/p60 proteins are γ-D-glutamate-meso-diaminopimelate muropeptidase. Instead, CHAP enzymes involved in cell separation are N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase and CHAP lysins have endopeptidase activity.

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