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J Infect Dis. 2003 Aug 1;188(3):414-23. Epub 2003 Jul 10.

Alanylation of teichoic acids protects Staphylococcus aureus against Toll-like receptor 2-dependent host defense in a mouse tissue cage infection model.

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Microbial Genetics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.


Staphylococcus aureus is inherently resistant to cationic antimicrobial peptides because of alanylation of cell envelope teichoic acids. To test the effect of alanylated teichoic acids on virulence and host defense mediated by Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), wild-type (wt) S. aureus ATCC35556 (S.a.113) and its isogenic mutant expressing unalanylated teichoic acids (dlt(-)) were compared in a tissue cage infection model that used C57BL/6 wt and TLR2-deficient mice. The minimum infective doses (MID) to establish persistent infection with S.a.113 were 10(3) and 10(2) colony-forming units (cfu) in wt and TLR2(-/-) mice, respectively. The corresponding MID for dlt(-) were 5x105 and 10(3) cfu in wt and TLR2(-/-) mice, respectively. Both mouse strains showed bacterial-load-dependent inflammation with elevations in tumor necrosis factor, macrophage inflammatory protein 2, and leukocytes, with increasing proportions of dead cells. These findings indicate that alanylated teichoic acids contribute to virulence of S. aureus, and TLR2 mediates host defense, which partly targets alanylated teichoic acids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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