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Biol Cell. 1995;83(2-3):219-229.

Organization of the outer layers of the cell envelope of Corynebacterium glutamicum: a combined freeze-etch electron microscopy and biochemical study.

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Laboratoire des Biomembranes, URA 1116, CNRS, Université de Paris-Sud, 91405 Orsay, France.


The cell surface of Corynebacterium glutamicum grown on solid medium was totally covered with a highly ordered, hexagonal surface layer. Also, freeze-fracture revealed two fracture surfaces which were totally covered with ordered arrays displaying an hexagonal arrangement and the same unit cell dimension as the surface layer. The ordered arrays on the concave fracture surface, closest to the cell surface, were due to the presence of particles while those on the convex fracture surface were their imprints. The same cells grown on liquid medium displayed a cell surface and fracture surfaces only partially covered with ordered arrays. In this case, the ordered regions had the same relative position on the cell surface and on the fracture surfaces. All ordered arrays were totally absent in a mutant for cspB, the gene encoding PS2, one of the two major cell wall proteins. Treatment of the cells with proteinase K caused the gradual alteration of PS2 into a slightly lower molecular mass form. This was accompanied by a concomitant disappearance of the ordered fracture surfaces followed by the detachment of the ordered surface layer from the cell as large ordered patches displaying the same lattice symmetry and dimensions as those of the surface layer. The ordered patches were isolated. They contained the totality of PS2 initially associated with the cell. We conclude that the highly ordered surface layer of the intact cell was composed of PS2 interacting strongly with some cell wall material leading to its organization. This organized cell wall material produced fracture surfaces. We show that in the absence of intact PS2 protein on the cell wall, the same cell wall material was not organized and formed a structureless smooth layer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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