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    Wall teichoic acids (WTAs) are charged glycopolymers containing phosphodiester-linked polyol units and represent one of the major components of Gram-positive cell envelope. WTAs have important physiological functions in cell division, gene transfer, surface adhesion, drug resistance and biofilm formation, and are critical virulence factors and vital determinants in mediating cell interaction with and tolerance to environmental factors. Here, we first briefly introduce WTA structure, biosynthesis and its regulation, and then summarize in detail four major physiological roles played by WTAs, i.e. WTA-mediated resistance to antimicrobials, virulence to mammalian cells, interaction with bacteriolytic enzymes and regulation of cell metabolism. We also review the applications of WTAs in these fields that are closely related to the human society, including antibacterial drug discovery targeting WTA biosynthesis, development of vaccines and antibodies regarding WTA-mediated pathogenicity, specific and sensitive detection of pathogens in food using WTAs as a surface epitope and regulation of WTA-related pathways for efficient microbial production of useful compounds. We also point out major problems remaining in these fields, and discuss some possible directions in the future exploration of WTA physiology and applications. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of FEMS. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    Xia Wu, Jing Han, Guoli Gong, Mattheos A G Koffas, Jian Zha. Wall teichoic acids: physiology and applications. FEMS microbiology reviews. 2021 Aug 17;45(4)

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    PMID: 33270820

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