D-Alanylation of teichoic acids contributes to Lactobacillus plantarum-mediated Drosophila growth during chronic undernutrition.
Nat Microbiol, 2(12):1635-1647.
The microbial environment influences animal physiology. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of such functional interactions are largely undefined. Previously, we showed that during chronic undernutrition, strains of Lactobacillus plantarum, a major commensal partner of Drosophila, promote host juvenile growth and maturation partly through enhanced expression of intestinal peptidases. By screening a transposon insertion library of Lactobacillus plantarum in gnotobiotic Drosophila larvae, we identify a bacterial cell-wall-modifying machinery encoded by the pbpX2-dlt operon that is critical to enhance host digestive capabilities and promote animal growth and maturation. Deletion of this operon leads to bacterial cell wall alteration with a complete loss of D-alanylation of teichoic acids. We show that L. plantarum cell walls bearing D-alanylated teichoic acids are directly sensed by Drosophila enterocytes to ensure optimal intestinal peptidase expression and activity, juvenile growth and maturation during chronic undernutrition. We thus conclude that besides peptidoglycan, teichoic acid modifications participate in the host-commensal bacteria molecular dialogue occurring in the intestine.