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Digestion of Streptococcus pneumoniae cell walls with its major peptidoglycan hydrolase releases branched stem peptides carrying proinflammatory activity.
Journal of Biological Chemistry
The peptidoglycan of Gram-positive bacteria is known to trigger cytokine release from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). However, it requires 100-1000 times more Gram-positive peptidoglycan than Gram-negative lipopolysaccharide to release the same amounts of cytokines from target cells. Thus, either peptidoglycan is poorly active or only part of it is required for PBMC activation. To test this hypothesis, purified Streptococcus pneumoniae walls were digested with their major autolysin N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase, and/or muramidase. Solubilized walls were separated by reverse phase high pressure chromatography. Individual fractions were tested for their PBMC-stimulating activity, and their composition was determined. Soluble components had a Mr between 600 and 1500. These primarily comprised stem peptides cross-linked to various extents. Simple stem peptides (Mr <750) were 10-fold less active than undigested peptidoglycan. In contrast, tripeptides (Mr >1000) were >/=100-fold more potent than the native material. One dipeptide (inactive) and two tripeptides (active) were confirmed by post-source decay analysis. Complex branched peptides represented </=2% of the total material, but their activity (w/w) was almost equal to that of LPS. This is the first observation suggesting that peptidoglycan stem peptides carry high tumor necrosis factor-stimulating activity. These types of structures are conserved among Gram-positive bacteria and will provide new material to help elucidate the mechanism of peptidoglycan-induced inflammation.
Cell Wall/metabolism, Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid, Inflammation Mediators/metabolism, Lipopolysaccharides/metabolism, N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase/metabolism, Peptides/metabolism, Polysaccharides/metabolism, Streptococcus pneumoniae/enzymology, Streptococcus pneumoniae/metabolism, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha/metabolism
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