• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of iaiPermissionsJournals.ASM.orgJournalIAI ArticleJournal InfoAuthorsReviewers
Infect Immun. Mar 1979; 23(3): 711–716.
PMCID: PMC414224

Activation of the alternative complement pathway by L-phase variants of gram-positive bacteria.


The present studies were performed to investigate the potential role of the alternative complement pathway in the host's defense against bacterial L-phase variants and to gain insight into the subcellular component of gram-positive bacteria responsible for activation of the alternative pathway. L-phase variants of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus faecalis were able to activate the alternative pathway and consume C3 in C4-deficient guinea pig serum in amounts comparable to their respective bacterial-phase parent organisms. Activation of the complement system via the alternative pathway resulted in death of the L-phase variants. Membranes prepared from S. faecalis L-phase variants, by either osmotic lysis or mechanical disruption, retained their ability to activate the alternative pathway. Treatment of the membranes by three different methods (water washes, hot trichloroacetic acid, and cold trichloroacetic acid) resulted in a greatly diminished ability of the membranes to activate the alternative pathway. In addition, the extracts derived from the membranes by water washes and by cold-trichloroacetic acid treatment were able to activate the alternative pathway. These studies indicate that these L-phase variants can activate the alternative pathway and suggest that membrane-associated factors play a role in the alternative pathway activation by S. faecalis L-phase variants.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (872K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • ELLIOTT SD. Teichoic acid and the group antigen of group D streptococci. Nature. 1962 Mar 17;193:1105–1106. [PubMed]
  • Ellman L, Green I, Frank M. Genetically controlled total deficiency of the fourth component of complement in the guinea pig. Science. 1970 Oct 2;170(3953):74–75. [PubMed]
  • Feingold DS. Biology and pathogenicity of microbial spheroplasts and l-forms. N Engl J Med. 1969 Nov 20;281(21):1159–1170. [PubMed]
  • Gewurz H, Shin HS, Mergenhagen SE. Interactions of the complement system with endotoxic lipopolysaccharide: consumption of each of the six terminal complement components. J Exp Med. 1968 Nov 1;128(5):1049–1057. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Greenblatt J, Boackle RJ, Schwab JH. Activation of the alternate complement pathway by peptidoglycan from streptococcal cell wall. Infect Immun. 1978 Jan;19(1):296–303. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Johnston RB, Jr, Stroud RM. Complement and host defense against infection. J Pediatr. 1977 Feb;90(2):169–179. [PubMed]
  • Joseph R, Shockman GD. Cellular localization of lipoteichoic acid in Streptococcus faecalis. J Bacteriol. 1975 Jun;122(3):1375–1386. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kenny JF. Bacterial variants in central nervous system infections in infants and children. J Pediatr. 1973 Oct;83(4):531–542. [PubMed]
  • Knox KW, Wicken AJ. Immunological properties of teichoic acids. Bacteriol Rev. 1973 Jun;37(2):215–257. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lew FT, Yukiyama Y, Waks HS, Osler AG. Activation of the alternative (properdin) pathway by divalent cations. J Immunol. 1975 Sep;115(3):884–888. [PubMed]
  • McGee ZA, Ratner HB, Bryant RE, Rosenthal AS, Koenig MG. An antibody-complement system in human serum lethal to L-phase variants of bacteria. J Infect Dis. 1972 Mar;125(3):231–242. [PubMed]
  • Marcus RL, Shin HS, Mayer MM. An alternate complement pathway: C-3 cleaving activity, not due to C4,2a, on endotoxic lipopolysaccharide after treatment with guinea pig serum; relation to properdin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1971 Jun;68(6):1351–1354. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Slabyj BM, Panos C. Teichoic acid of a stabilized L-form of Streptococcus pyogenes. J Bacteriol. 1973 Jun;114(3):934–942. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Slabyj BM, Panos C. Membrane lipoteichoic acid of Streptococcus pyogenes and its stabilized L-form and the effect of two antibiotics upon its cellular content. J Bacteriol. 1976 Aug;127(2):855–862. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Tauber JW, Polley MJ, Zabriskie JB. Nonspecific complement activation by streptococcal structures. II. Properdin-independent initiation of the alternate pathway. J Exp Med. 1976 Jun 1;143(6):1352–1366. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Toon P, Brown PE, Baddiley J. The lipid-teichoic acid complex in the cytoplasmic membrane of Streptococcus faecalis N.C.I.B. 8191. Biochem J. 1972 Apr;127(2):399–409. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • WICKEN AJ, ELLIOTT SD, BADDILEY J. The identity of streptococcal group D antigen with teichoic acid. J Gen Microbiol. 1963 May;31:231–239. [PubMed]
  • Wicken AJ, Knox KW. Lipoteichoic acids: a new class of bacterial antigen. Science. 1975 Mar 28;187(4182):1161–1167. [PubMed]
  • Wilkinson BJ, Kim Y, Peterson PK, Quie PG, Michael AF. Activation of complement by cell surface components of Staphylococcus aureus. Infect Immun. 1978 May;20(2):388–392. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Winkelstein JA, Tomasz A. Activation of the alternative pathway by pneumococcal cell walls. J Immunol. 1977 Feb;118(2):451–454. [PubMed]
  • Winkelstein JA, Tomasz A. Activation of the alternative complement pathway by pneumococcal cell wall teichoic acid. J Immunol. 1978 Jan;120(1):174–178. [PubMed]

Articles from Infection and Immunity are provided here courtesy of American Society for Microbiology (ASM)


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...