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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2011 Jun;319(2):97-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2011.02260.x. Epub 2011 Mar 25.

Location, synthesis and function of glycolipids and polyglycerolphosphate lipoteichoic acid in Gram-positive bacteria of the phylum Firmicutes.

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Section of Microbiology, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London, UK.


Lipoteichoic acid (LTA) is a zwitterionic polymer found in the cell wall of many Gram-positive bacteria. A widespread and one of the best-studied forms of LTA consists of a polyglycerolphosphate (PGP) chain that is tethered to the membrane via a glycolipid anchor. In this review, we will summarize our current understanding of the enzymes involved in glycolipid and PGP backbone synthesis in a variety of different Gram-positive bacteria. The recent identification of key LTA synthesis proteins allowed the construction and analysis of mutant strains with defined defects in glycolipid or backbone synthesis. Using these strains, new information on the functions of LTA for bacterial growth, physiology and during developmental processes was gained and will be discussed. Furthermore, we will reintroduce the idea that LTA remains in close proximity to the bacterial membrane for its function during bacterial growth rather than as a surface-exposed structure.

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