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Mol Microbiol. 1993 Dec;10(5):911-6.

Crystalline bacterial cell surface layers.

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  • 1Zentrum für Ultrastrukturforschung und Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institut für Molekulare Nanotechnologie Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien, Austria.


Crystalline arrays of proteinaceous subunits forming surface layers (S-layers) are one of the most commonly observed prokaryotic cell envelope structures. They are ubiquitous amongst Gram-positive and Gram-negative archeaobacteria and eubacteria and, if present, account for the major protein species produced by the cells. S-layers can provide organisms with a selection advantage by providing various functions including protective coats, molecular sieves, ion traps and structures involved in cell surface interactions. S-layers were identified as contributing to virulence when present as a structural component of pathogens. In Gram-negative archaeobacteria they are involved in determining cell shape and cell division. The crystalline arrays reveal a broad-application potential in biotechnology, vaccine development and molecular nanotechnology.

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