The Fascinating Coat Surrounding Mycobacteria

Daffé, Mamadou; Zuber, Benoît (2014). The Fascinating Coat Surrounding Mycobacteria. In: Remaut, Han; Fronzes, Remy (eds.) Bacterial Membranes: Structural and Molecular Biology (pp. 179-192). Norfolk: Caister Academic Press

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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.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Anatomy

UniBE Contributor:

Zuber, Benoît


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Caister Academic Press




Benoît Zuber

Date Deposited:

09 Oct 2014 08:41

Last Modified:

28 Nov 2020 02:24


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