Bacterial Modification of LPS and Resistance to Antimicrobial Peptides

J Endotoxin Res. 2001;7(1):57-62.


Antimicrobial peptides (APs) are ubiquitous in nature and are thought to kill micro-organisms by affecting membrane integrity. These positively charged peptides interact with negative charges in the LPS of Gram-negative bacteria. A common mechanism of resistance to AP killing is LPS modification. These modifications include fatty acid additions, phosphoethanolamine (PEtN) addition to the core and lipid A regions, 4-amino-4-deoxy-L-arabinose (Ara4N) addition to the core and lipid A regions, acetylation of the O-antigen, and possibly hydroxylation of fatty acids. In Salmonella typhimurium, LPS modifications are induced within host tissues by the two-component regulatory systems PhoPQ and PmrAB. PmrAB activation results in AP resistance by Ara4N addition to lipid A through the activation of at least 8 genes, 7 of which are transcribed as an operon. Loss of this operon and, therefore, Ara4N LPS modification, affects S. typhimurium virulence when administered orally. Transposon mutagenesis of Proteus mirabilis also suggests that LPS modifications affect AP resistance and virulence phenotypes. Therefore, LPS modification in Gram-negative bacteria plays a significant role during infection in resistance to host antimicrobial factors, avoidance of immune system recognition, and maintenance of virulence phenotypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Sugars / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Female
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / chemistry
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics
  • Lipopolysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Phenotype
  • Proteus mirabilis / drug effects
  • Salmonella typhimurium / drug effects
  • Virulence


  • Amino Sugars
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • PhoQ protein, Bacteria
  • PhoP protein, Bacteria
  • 4-amino-4-deoxyarabinose