Inhibition of D-Ala:D-Ala ligase through a phosphorylated form of the antibiotic D-cycloserine

D-cycloserine is an antibiotic which targets sequential bacterial cell wall peptidoglycan biosynthesis enzymes: alanine racemase and D-alanine:D-alanine ligase. By a combination of structural, chemical and mechanistic studies here we show that the inhibition of D-alanine:D-alanine ligase by the antibiotic D-cycloserine proceeds via a distinct phosphorylated form of the drug. This mechanistic insight reveals a bimodal mechanism of action for a single antibiotic on different enzyme targets and has significance for the design of future inhibitor molecules based on this chemical structure.