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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2006 Jul;4(7):537-47. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

Protein secretion in the Archaea: multiple paths towards a unique cell surface.

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Department of Microbiology, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute and the Materials Science Centre Plus, University of Groningen, Kerklaan 30, 9751 NN Haren, The Netherlands.


Archaea are similar to other prokaryotes in most aspects of cell structure but are unique with respect to the lipid composition of the cytoplasmic membrane and the structure of the cell surface. Membranes of archaea are composed of glycerol-ether lipids instead of glycerol-ester lipids and are based on isoprenoid side chains, whereas the cell walls are formed by surface-layer proteins. The unique cell surface of archaea requires distinct solutions to the problem of how proteins cross this barrier to be either secreted into the medium or assembled as appendages at the cell surface.

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