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The Drosophila immune system is able to discriminate between classes of bacteria. Detection of Gram-positive bacteria involves a complex of two pattern recognition receptors: peptidoglycan recognition protein SA (PGRP-SA) and Gram-negative binding protein 1 (GNBP1). These activate the Toll signalling pathway. To define the cell wall components sensed by the host, we used highly purified peptidoglycan fragments of two principal Gram-positive bacterial pathogens Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. We report that in both peptidoglycans, the minimal structure needed to activate the Toll pathway is a muropeptide dimer and that the free reducing end of the N-acetyl muramic acid residues of the muropeptides is essential for activity. Monomeric muropeptides were inactive and inhibitory in combination with dimers. Finally, peptidoglycan was degraded by the haemolymph of wild-type but not GNBP1 mutant flies. We suggest a model whereby GNBP1 is involved in the hydrolysis of Gram-positive peptidoglycan producing new glycan reducing ends, which are subsequently detected by PGRP-SA.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





327 - 333


Animals, Carrier Proteins, Cell Wall, Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Hemolymph, Models, Biological, Muramic Acids, Peptidoglycan, Receptors, Cell Surface, Signal Transduction, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Toll-Like Receptors