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J Struct Biol. 1998 Dec 15;124(2-3):244-56.

Mollicutes-wall-less bacteria with internal cytoskeletons.

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Department of Membrane and Ultrastructure Research, The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, 91120, Israel.


The structure and motility of the Mollicutes (Spiroplasma, Mycoplasma, and Acholeplasma) are briefly reviewed. The data are presented from the perspective of prokaryotic and eukaryotic motors, cytoskeletons, and cell motility. The Mollicutes are eubacteria derived from Clostridia by regressive evolution and genome reduction to produce the smallest and simplest free-living and self-replicating cells. Structurally, the Mollicutes are characterized by a complete lack of a cell wall and the presence of an internal cytoskeleton. Spiroplasma, which are helical cells with a flat, ribbon-like cytoskeleton, are amenable to structural and geometrical analysis. Motility and shape changes can be explained and modeled by the cytoskeleton acting as a linear motor.

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