Prokaryotic Surface Layers


In situ structure and dynamics of prokaryotic surface layers

Many prokaryotic cells including bacteria and archaea are encapsulated by a highly-organized surface layer (or S-layer) that consists of repeating subunits of sheet-forming S-layer proteins (see Bharat et al, 2020). S-layers have fascinated microbiologists, microscopists and structural biologists for many decades because of their order, beauty, utility and abundance. S-layers act as permeability barriers protecting prokaryotic cells from harmful molecules including extracellular phages. S-layers provide mechanical support to membranes, allowing cells to maintain their shape. S-layers also play roles in pathogenicity in bacterial species such as Campylobacter fetus, Clostridium difficile and Bacillus anthracis. We use electron cryotomography in conjunction with X-ray crystallography and single-particle electron cryomicroscopy to understand how S-layers are assembled and arranged on prokaryotic cells (please see Bharat et al, 2017 and von Kügelgen et al, 2020).


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