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PLoS One. 2016 Feb 12;11(2):e0149092. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149092. eCollection 2016.

D-Alanylation of Teichoic Acids and Loss of Poly-N-Acetyl Glucosamine in Staphylococcus aureus during Exponential Growth Phase Enhance IL-12 Production in Murine Dendritic Cells.

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Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark.


Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen that has evolved very efficient immune evading strategies leading to persistent colonization. During different stages of growth, S. aureus express various surface molecules, which may affect the immune stimulating properties, but very little is known about their role in immune stimulation and evasion. Depending on the growth phase, S. aureus may affect antigen presenting cells differently. Here, the impact of growth phases and the surface molecules lipoteichoic acid, peptidoglycan and poly-N-acetyl glucosamine on the induction of IL-12 imperative for an efficient clearance of S. aureus was studied in dendritic cells (DCs). Exponential phase (EP) S. aureus was superior to stationary phase (SP) bacteria in induction of IL-12, which required actin-mediated endocytosis and endosomal acidification. Moreover, addition of staphylococcal cell wall derived peptidoglycan to EP S. aureus stimulated cells increased bacterial uptake but abrogated IL-12 induction, while addition of lipoteichoic acid increased IL-12 production but had no effect on the bacterial uptake. Depletion of the capability to produce poly-N-acetyl glucosamine increased the IL-12 inducing activity of EP bacteria. Furthermore, the mutant dltA unable to produce D-alanylated teichoic acids failed to induce IL-12 but like peptidoglycan and the toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands LPS and Pam3CSK4 the mutant stimulated increased macropinocytosis. In conclusion, the IL-12 response by DCs against S. aureus is highly growth phase dependent, relies on cell wall D-alanylation, endocytosis and subsequent endosomal degradation, and is abrogated by receptor induced macropinocytosis.

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