Human sera were found to contain antibodies precipitating with each of two samples of teichoic acid of Staphylococcus aureus prior to immunization; these antibodies were probably formed as a result of contact or infection with this microorganism. Injection of teichoic acid into two individuals resulted in a rise in circulating antibody to teichoic acid; a third subject probably had a primary response to α-teichoic acid. Quantitative precipitin and agar diffusion studies revealed the presence of two distinct antibodies in the sera and showed that each specimen of teichoic acid was a mixture of two polymers an α-linked N-acetylglucosaminyl-ribitol polymer and a ß-linked N-acetylglucosaminyl-ribitol polymer, termed α- and ß-teichoic acids respectively. The α-teichoic acid anti-α-teichoic acid system was inhibited best by α-linked glucosaminides and the ß-anti-ß-teichoic acid system was inhibited best by a ß-linked glucosaminide. The α- and (ß-teichoic acids could be separated from each other by specific precipitation under appropriate conditions and recovered from the washed specific precipitates. The existence of two distinct teichoic acid polymers raises important questions as to cell wall structure and the biosynthesis of the teichoic acids.

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