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Immunobiology. 2011 Jan-Feb;216(1-2):24-31. doi: 10.1016/j.imbio.2010.03.008. Epub 2010 Mar 20.

Growth temperature-dependent expression of structural variants of Listeria monocytogenes lipoteichoic acid.

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  • 1Biochemical Pharmacology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz 78467, Germany.


Investigating the expression of lipoteichoic acid (LTA) from Listeria monocytogenes, we found two distinct structural variants of LTA (LTA1 and LTA2) using NMR and MS technology. While both LTA consisted of a poly-glycerophosphate backbone (differing in length) bound via a disaccharide to a diacyl-glycerol moiety, one LTA type (LTA2) possessed a second diacyl-glycerol moiety linked to the disaccharide via a phosphodiester. As examined in vitro, LTA2 in contrast to LTA1 failed to activate the L-ficolin dependent pathway of complement. Most interestingly, growth temperature had a strong influence on the expression levels of LTA1 and LTA2 in the cell wall: while the amount of LTA1 was comparable, the expression of LTA2 was low when Listeria had grown at room temperature (ratio of LTA1 to LTA2 was 1:0.06), but increased when Listeria had been cultivated at 37°C (ratio of LTA1 to LTA2 was 1:0.68). The observed shift in LTA expression, probably accompanying the switch from the saprophytic to the virulent entity, indicates an important adaptation to the different structural requirements inside the host cells.

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