Lipoteichoic Acid Synthesis and Function in Gram-Positive Bacteria

  • Olaf Schneewind
  • Dominique MissiakasEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Lipoteichoic acids (LTA), polymers of repeating phosphodiester-linked polyols, are found in the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane of Gram-positive bacteria. Research on LTA structure represents a large, mostly unexplored frontier. LTA biosynthesis has been studied in several model organisms, including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Bacillus subtilis, and Bacillus anthracis. This work led to several hypotheses of LTA function to support bacterial growth, cell division and separation, ion hemostasis, as well as envelope assembly and integrity. Molecular genetic studies also revealed catalysts for LTA substituents with D-alanine, phosphocholine and glycolipid anchors that impact the invasive attributes of bacterial pathogens or the anti-inflammatory attributes of microbiota. Consequently, LTA is being explored as a target for the development of antibiotics, vaccines, and immune therapeutics in order to address important unmet clinical needs for the treatment of human ailments.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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