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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2013;67:313-36. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-092412-155620.

Wall teichoic acids of gram-positive bacteria.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115; email:


The peptidoglycan layers of many gram-positive bacteria are densely functionalized with anionic glycopolymers known as wall teichoic acids (WTAs). These polymers play crucial roles in cell shape determination, regulation of cell division, and other fundamental aspects of gram-positive bacterial physiology. Additionally, WTAs are important in pathogenesis and play key roles in antibiotic resistance. We provide an overview of WTA structure and biosynthesis, review recent studies on the biological roles of these polymers, and highlight remaining questions. We also discuss prospects for exploiting WTA biosynthesis as a target for new therapies to overcome resistant infections.

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