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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1975 May;72(5):1690-4.

Lipoteichoic acid: a specific inhibitor of autolysin activity in Pneumococcus.


The choline-containing pneumococcal lipoteichoic acid (Forssman antigen) is a powerful inhibitor of the homologous autolytic enzyme, an N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanine amidase (EC, MUCOPEPTIDE AMIDOHYDROLASE). Low concentrations of deoxycholate can reverse the inhibition. Wall teichoic acid preparations are inactive at several hundred-fold higher concentrations. Activation of an inactive form of autolysin by in vitro incubation with choline-containing cell walls is also inhibited by lipoteichoic acid. Addition of lipoteichoic acid to the growth medium of pneumococcal cultures causes chain formation, resistance to stationary phase lysis, and penicillin tolerance. It is suggested that a physiological role of lipoteichoic acids may be in the in vivo control of autolysin activity.

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