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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Apr 20;198(1):1-7.

Structure, function, and assembly of the terminal organelle of Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Mycoplasmas are cell wall-less bacteria at the low extreme in genome size in the known prokaryote world, and the minimal nature of their genomes is clearly reflected in their metabolic and regulatory austerity. Despite this apparent simplicity, certain species such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae possess a complex terminal organelle that functions in cytadherence, gliding motility, and cell division. The attachment organelle is a membrane-bound extension of the cell and is characterized by an electron-dense core that is part of the mycoplasma cytoskeleton, defined here for working purposes as the protein fraction that remains after extraction with the detergent Triton X-100. This review focuses on the architecture and assembly of the terminal organelle of M. pneumoniae. Characterizing the downstream consequences of defects involving attachment organelle components has made it possible to begin to elucidate the probable sequence of certain events in the biogenesis of this structure.

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