Wall teichoic acid structure governs horizontal gene transfer between major bacterial pathogens

Winstel, V. et al. (2013) Wall teichoic acid structure governs horizontal gene transfer between major bacterial pathogens. Nature Communications, 4(2345), (doi: 10.1038/ncomms3345)

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.


Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms3345


Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) encoding virulence and resistance genes are widespread in bacterial pathogens, but it has remained unclear how they occasionally jump to new host species. Staphylococcus aureus clones exchange MGEs such as S. aureus pathogenicity islands (SaPIs) with high frequency via helper phages. Here we report that the S. aureus ST395 lineage is refractory to horizontal gene transfer (HGT) with typical S. aureus but exchanges SaPIs with other species and genera including Staphylococcus epidermidis and Listeria monocytogenes. ST395 produces an unusual wall teichoic acid (WTA) resembling that of its HGT partner species. Notably, distantly related bacterial species and genera undergo efficient HGT with typical S. aureus upon ectopic expression of S. aureus WTA. Combined with genomic analyses, these results indicate that a ‘glycocode’ of WTA structures and WTA-binding helper phages permits HGT even across long phylogenetic distances thereby shaping the evolution of Gram-positive pathogens.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Penades, Prof Jose R
Authors: Winstel, V., Liang, C., Sanchez-Carballo, P., Steglich, M., Munar, M., Bröker, B.M., Penadés, J.R., Nübel, U., Holst, O., Dandekar, T., Peschel, A., and Xia, G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Nature Communications
ISSN (Online):2041-1723
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 The Authors
First Published:First Published in Nature Communications 4(2345)
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License; Reproduced with the permission of the authors.

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record