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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2014 Mar;12(3):211-22. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3213. Epub 2014 Feb 10.

Biogenesis and functions of bacterial S-layers.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK.
Department of Life Sciences, MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ, UK.


The outer surface of many archaea and bacteria is coated with a proteinaceous surface layer (known as an S-layer), which is formed by the self-assembly of monomeric proteins into a regularly spaced, two-dimensional array. Bacteria possess dedicated pathways for the secretion and anchoring of the S-layer to the cell wall, and some Gram-positive species have large S-layer-associated gene families. S-layers have important roles in growth and survival, and their many functions include the maintenance of cell integrity, enzyme display and, in pathogens and commensals, interaction with the host and its immune system. In this Review, we discuss our current knowledge of S-layer and related proteins, including their structures, mechanisms of secretion and anchoring and their diverse functions.

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