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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2856. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3856.

Discovery of chlamydial peptidoglycan reveals bacteria with murein sacculi but without FtsZ.

Author information

Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Division of Microbial Ecology, University of Vienna, Vienna, A-1090, Austria.
Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, The Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4AX, United Kingdom.
Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Pinnacle Laboratory, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4AX, United Kingdom.
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 47405, USA.
Contributed equally


Chlamydiae are important pathogens and symbionts with unique cell biological features. They lack the cell-division protein FtsZ, and the existence of peptidoglycan (PG) in their cell wall has been highly controversial. FtsZ and PG together function in orchestrating cell division and maintaining cell shape in almost all other bacteria. Using electron cryotomography, mass spectrometry and fluorescent labelling dyes, here we show that some environmental chlamydiae have cell wall sacculi consisting of a novel PG type. Treatment with fosfomycin (a PG synthesis inhibitor) leads to lower infection rates and aberrant cell shapes, suggesting that PG synthesis is crucial for the chlamydial life cycle. Our findings demonstrate for the first time the presence of PG in a member of the Chlamydiae. They also present a unique example of a bacterium with a PG sacculus but without FtsZ, challenging the current hypothesis that it is the absence of a cell wall that renders FtsZ non-essential.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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