Wall teichoic acids of gram-positive bacteria

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


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Cell Wall / genetics
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / chemistry
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Teichoic Acids / biosynthesis*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Teichoic Acids