Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD) protein 1 (NOD1) and NOD2 are pathogen recognition receptors that sense breakdown products of peptidoglycan (PGN) (muropeptides). It is shown that a number of these muropeptides can induce tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) gene expression without significant TNF-alpha translation. This translation block is lifted when the muropeptides are coincubated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), thereby accounting for an apparently synergistic effect of the muropeptides with LPS on TNF-alpha protein production. The compounds that induced synergistic effects were also able to activate NF-kappaB in a NOD1- or NOD2-dependent manner, implicating these proteins in synergistic TNF-alpha secretion. It was found that a diaminopimelic acid (DAP)-containing muramyl tetrapeptide could activate NF-kappaB in a NOD1-dependent manner, demonstrating that an exposed DAP is not essential for NOD1 sensing. The activity was lost when the alpha-carboxylic acid of iso-glutamic acid was modified as an amide. However, agonists of NOD2, such as muramyl dipeptide and lysine-containing muramyl tripeptides, were not affected by amidation of the alpha-carboxylic acid of iso-glutamic acid. Many pathogens modify the alpha-carboxylic acid of iso-glutamic acid of PGN, and thus it appears this is a strategy to avoid recognition by the host innate immune system. This type of immune evasion is in particular relevant for NOD1.