2016 Volume 35 Issue 4 Pages 147-161
Bacterial cell surface molecules are at the forefront of host-bacterium interactions. Teichoic acids are observed only in Gram-positive bacteria, and they are one of the main cell surface components. Teichoic acids play important physiological roles and contribute to the bacterial interaction with their host. In particular, lipoteichoic acid (LTA) anchored to the cell membrane has attracted attention as a host immunomodulator. Chemical and biological characteristics of LTA from various bacteria have been described. However, most of the information concerns pathogenic bacteria, and information on beneficial bacteria, including probiotic lactic acid bacteria, is insufficient. LTA is structurally diverse. Strain-level structural diversity of LTA is suggested to underpin its immunomodulatory activities. Thus, the structural information on LTA in probiotics, in particular strain-associated diversity, is important for understanding its beneficial roles associated with the modulation of immune response. Continued accumulation of structural information is necessary to elucidate the detailed physiological roles and significance of LTA. In this review article, we summarize the current state of knowledge on LTA structure, in particular the structure of LTA from lactic acid bacteria. We also describe the significance of structural diversity and biological roles of LTA.