Peptidoglycan recognition proteins kill bacteria by activating protein-sensing two-component systems

Des Raj Kashyap, Minhui Wang, Li Hui Liu, Geert Jan Boons, Dipika Gupta, Roman Dziarski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

95 Scopus citations


Mammalian peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRPs), similar to antimicrobial lectins, bind the bacterial cell wall and kill bacteria through an unknown mechanism. We show that PGRPs enter the Gram-positive cell wall at the site of daughter cell separation during cell division. In Bacillus subtilis, PGRPs activate the CssR-CssS two-component system that detects and disposes of misfolded proteins that are usually exported out of bacterial cells. This activation results in membrane depolarization, cessation of intracellular peptidoglycan, protein, RNA and DNA synthesis, and production of hydroxyl radicals, which are responsible for bacterial death. PGRPs also bind the outer membrane of Escherichia coli and activate the functionally homologous CpxA-CpxR two-component system, which kills the bacteria. We exclude other potential bactericidal mechanisms, including inhibition of extracellular peptidoglycan synthesis, hydrolysis of peptidoglycan and membrane permeabilization. Thus, we reveal a previously unknown mechanism by which innate immunity proteins that bind the cell wall or outer membrane exploit the bacterial stress defense response to kill bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-683
Number of pages8
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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