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Infect Immun. 2011 Feb;79(2):562-70. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00651-10. Epub 2010 Nov 1.

Modifications to the peptidoglycan backbone help bacteria to establish infection.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3610 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6076, USA.


Bacterial pathogens that colonize mucosal surfaces have acquired resistance to antimicrobials that are abundant at these sites. One of the main antimicrobials present on mucosal surfaces is lysozyme, a muramidase that hydrolyzes the peptidoglycan backbone of bacteria. Cleavage of the peptidoglycan backbone leads to bacterial cell death and lysis, which releases bacterial fragments, including peptidoglycan, at the site of infection. Peptidoglycan fragments can be recognized by host receptors and initiate an immune response that will aid in clearing infection. Many mucosal pathogens modify the peptidoglycan residues surrounding the cleavage site for lysozyme to avoid peptidoglycan degradation and the release of these proinflammatory fragments. This review will focus specifically on peptidoglycan modifications, their role in lysozyme resistance, and downstream effects on the host immune response to infection.

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