Caister Academic Press

The Fascinating Coat Surrounding Mycobacteria

Mamadou Daffé and Benoît Zuber
from: Bacterial Membranes: Structural and Molecular Biology (Edited by: Han Remaut and Rémi Fronzes). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2014)


The mycobacterial cell envelope is fascinating in several ways. First, its composition is unique by the exceptional lipid content, which consists of very long-chain (up to C90) fatty acids, the so-called mycolic acids, and a variety of exotic compounds. Second, these lipids are atypically organized into a Gram-negative-like outer membrane (mycomembrane) in these Gram-positive bacteria, as recently revealed by CEMOVIS, and this mycomembrane also contains pore-forming proteins. Third, the mycolic acids esterified a holistic heteropolysaccharide (arabinogalacan), which in turn is linked to the peptidoglycan to form the cell wall skeleton (CWS). In slow-growing pathogenic mycobacterial species, this giant structure is surrounded by a capsular layer composed mainly of polysaccharides, primarily a glycogen-like glucan. The CWS is separated from the plasma membrane by a periplasmic space. A challenging research avenue for the next decade comprises the identification of the components of the uptake and secretion machineries and the isolation and biochemical characterization of the mycomembrane read more ...
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