Lysozyme attacks the cell walls of bacteria
The First Antibiotic
A Cellular Guardian
A Molecular Laboratory
Exploring the Structure
Lysozyme Active Site
Lysozyme has a long active site cleft that binds to the bacterial carbohydrate chain. The structure shown here contains a piece of the bacterial cell wall, including two sugar rings and a short piece of the crosslinking peptide. Based on computer modeling, it has been proposed that lysozyme distorts the shape of one sugar ring in the chain, making it more easy to cleave (although other studies have proposed that different effects, like electrostatics, are more important). This structure, PDB entry 148l , shows what this distorted ring might look like. Normally, sugar rings adopt a zig-zag "chair" structure, like the purple-colored ring on the left. Compare this to the ring on the right, colored green, which is flattened into a less stable structure. To explore this structure in more detail, click on the image for an interactive JSmol.
September 2000, David Goodselldoi:10.2210/rcsb_pdb/mom_2000_9