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Microb Drug Resist. 2012 Jun;18(3):280-5. doi: 10.1089/mdr.2012.0002. Epub 2012 Mar 20.

Mammalian peptidoglycan recognition proteins kill bacteria by activating two-component systems and modulate microbiome and inflammation.

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School of Medicine, Indiana University, Gary, Indiana 46408, USA.


Peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRPs) are conserved from insects to mammals and function in antibacterial immunity. We have revealed a novel mechanism of bacterial killing by innate immune system, in which mammalian PGRPs bind to bacterial cell wall or outer membrane and exploit bacterial stress defense response to kill bacteria. PGRPs enter Gram-positive cell wall at the site of daughter cell separation during cell division. In Bacillus subtilis PGRPs activate the CssR-CssS two-component system that detects and disposes of misfolded proteins exported out of bacterial cells. This activation results in membrane depolarization, production of hydroxyl radicals, and cessation of intracellular peptidoglycan, protein, RNA, and DNA synthesis, which are responsible for bacterial death. PGRPs also bind to the outer membrane in Escherichia coli and activate functionally homologous CpxA-CpxR two-component system, which also results in bacterial death. We excluded other potential bactericidal mechanisms, such as inhibition of extracellular peptidoglycan synthesis, hydrolysis of peptidoglycan, and membrane permeabilization. In vivo, mammalian PGRPs are expressed in polymorphonuclear leukocytes, skin, salivary glands, oral cavity, intestinal tract, eyes, and liver. They control acquisition and maintenance of beneficial normal gut microflora, which protects the host from enhanced inflammation, tissue damage, and colitis.

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