Cell wall glycopolymers of Firmicutes and their role as nonprotein adhesins

FEBS Lett. 2016 Nov;590(21):3758-3771. doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.12288. Epub 2016 Jul 25.


Cell wall glycopolymers (CWGs) of gram-positive bacteria have gained increasing interest with respect to their role in colonization and infection. In most gram-positive pathogens they constitute a large fraction of the cell wall biomass and represent major cell envelope determinants. Depending on their chemical structure they modulate interaction with complement factors and play roles in immune evasion or serve as nonprotein adhesins that mediate, especially under dynamic conditions, attachment to different host cell types. In particular, covalently peptidoglycan-attached CWGs that extend well above the cell wall seem to interact with glyco-receptors on host cell surfaces. For example, in the case of Staphylococcus aureus, the cell wall-attached teichoic acid (WTA) has been identified as a major CWG adhesin. A recent report indicates that a type-F scavenger receptor, termed SR-F1 (SREC-I), is the predominant WTA receptor in the nasal cavity and that WTA-SREC-I interaction plays an important role in S. aureus nasal colonization. Therefore, understanding the role of CWGs in complex processes that mediate colonization and infection will allow novel insights into the mechanisms of host-microbiota interaction.

Keywords: Staphylococcus aureus; Firmicutes; cell wall; glycopolymers; gram-positive; nonprotein adhesin; scavenger receptors; wall teichoic acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Adhesins, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Firmicutes / chemistry
  • Firmicutes / metabolism*
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Nasal Cavity / microbiology
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class F / metabolism*


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • SCARF1 protein, human
  • Scavenger Receptors, Class F