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Bacterial Morphology

Bacterial Morphology

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Published by: erando88 on Feb 03, 2010
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Bacterial Morphology
Bacterial Structure
:: Cytoplasmic Structures ::
Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria have similar internal, but very different external structures.The cytoplasm of the bacterial cell contains the DNA chromosome, the mRNA, ribosomes, proteins, andmetabolites). Unlike eukaryotes, the bacterial chromosome is a single, double-stranded circle that iscontained not in a nucleus but in a discrete area known as the nucleoid. Histones are not required tomaintain the conformation of the DNA, and the DNA does not form nucleosomes. Plasmids, which aresmaller, circular, extrachromosomal DNAs, may also be present. Plasmids are most commonly found inGram negative bacteria, and although not usually essential for cellular survival, they often provide aselective advantage: many confer resistance to one or more antibiotics.
Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. A Gram positive bacterium has a thick layer of  peptidoglycan (left). A Gram negative bacterium has a thin peptidoglycan layer and an outer membrane (right). Structures in () are not found in all bacteria.
The lack of a nuclear membrane simplifies the requirements and control mechanisms for the synthesisof proteins. Without a nuclear membrane, transcription and translation are coupled; in other words,ribosomes can bind to the mRNA, and protein can be made as the mRNA is being synthesized and stillattached to the DNA.The bacterial ribosome consists of 30S + 50S subunits, forming a 70S ribosome. This is unlike theeukaryotic 80S (40S + 60S) ribosome. The proteins and RNA of the bacterial ribosome are significantlydifferent from those of eukaryotic ribosomes and are major targets for antibacterial drugs.The cytoplasmic membrane has a lipid bilayer structure similar to the structure of the eukaryoticmembranes, but it contains no steroids (e.g., cholesterol); mycoplasmas are the exception to this rule. Thecytoplasmic membrane is responsible for many of the functions attributable to organelles in eukaryotes.These tasks include electron transport and energy production, which are normally achieved in themitochondria. In addition, the membrane contains transport proteins that allow the uptake of metabolitesand the release of other substances, ion pumps to maintain a membrane potential, and enzymes. A coiledcytoplasmic membrane, the mesosome, acts as an anchor to bind and pull apart daughter chromosomesduring cell division.
:: Cell Wall ::
The structure, components, and functions of the cell wall distinguish Gram positive from Gram negative bacteria. The important differences in membrane characteristics are outlined in. The cytoplasmicmembranes of most prokaryotes are surrounded by rigid peptidoglycan (murein) layers. The exceptions are
organisms (which contain pseudoglycans or pseudomureins related to peptidoglycan) andmycoplasmas (which have no cell walls at all). Because the peptidoglycan provides rigidity, it alsodetermines the shape of the particular bacterial cell. Gram negative bacteria are also surrounded by outer membranes.
 Bacterial Membrane Structures
StructureChemical Constituents
Plasma Membrane Phospholipids, proteins, enzymes for energy, membrane potential, transport.Cell WallGram +ve BacteriaPeptidoglycan Glycan chains of GlcNAc and MurNAc cross linked by peptide bridge.Teichoic Acid Polyribitol phosphate or glycerol phosphate cross linked to peptidoglycan.
Lipoteichoic Acid Lipid linked teichoic acid.Gram -ve BacteriaPeptidoglycan Thinner version of that found in Gram positive bacteria.Periplasmic Space Enzymes involved in transport, degradation, and synthesis.Outer Membrane Phospholipids with saturated fatty acids.Proteins Porins, lipoprotein, transport proteins.LPS Lipid A, core polysaccharide, O antigen.Other StructuresCapsule Polysaccharides (disaccharides and trisaccharides) and polypeptides.Pili Pilin, adhesins.Flagellum Motor proteins, flagellin.Proteins M proteins of streptococci (for example).
GlcNac=N-Acetylglucosamine; MurNAc=N-acetylmuramic acid; LPS=lipopolysaccharide. Functions Of The Bacterial Envelope
Structural Rigidity All.Packaging Of Internal Contents All.Permeability Barrier Outer membrane or plasma membrane.Metabolic Uptake Membranes and periplasmic transport proteins, porins, permeases.Energy Production Plasma membrane.Adhesion To Host Cells Pili, proteins, teichoic acid.Immune Recognition By Host All outer structures.Escape From Host Recognition Capsule, M protein.Antibiotic Sensitivity Peptidoglycan synthetic enzymes.Antibiotic Resistance Outer membrane.Motility Flagella.Mating Pili.Adhesion Pili.
:: Gram Positive Bacteria ::
A Gram positive bacterium has a thick, multilayered cell wall consisting mainly of peptidoglycan (150to 500 A) surrounding the cytoplasmic membrane. The peptidoglycan is a meshlike exoskeleton similar infunction to the exoskeleton of an insect. Unlike the exoskeleton of the insect, however, the peptidoglycanof the cell is sufficiently porous to allow diffusion of metabolites to the plasma membrane. The peptidoglycan is essential for the structure, for replication, and for survival in the normally hostileconditions in which bacteria grow. During infection, the peptidoglycan can interfere with phagocytosis, ismitogenic (stimulates mitosis of lymphocytes), and has pyrogenic activity (induces fever).The peptidoglycan can be degraded by treatment with lysozyme. Lysozyme, an enzyme in human tearsand mucus, is also produced by bacteria and other organisms. Lysozyme degrades the glycan backbone of the peptidoglycan. Without the peptidoglycan, the bacteria succumb to the large osmotic pressuredifferences across the cytoplasmic membrane and lyse. Removal of the cell wall produces a protoplast thatlyses unless it is osmotically stabilized.The Gram positive cell wall may also include other components such as teichoic and lipoteichoic acidsand complex polysaccharides (usually called C polysaccharides). Proteins such as the M protein of streptococci and R protein of staphylococci also associate with the peptidoglycan. Teichoic acids are water-soluble polymers of polyol phosphates, which are covalently linked to the peptidoglycan. Lipoteichoicacids have a fatty acid and are anchored in the cytoplasmic membrane. These molecules are commonsurface antigens that distinguish bacterial serotypes and promote attachment to other bacteria as well as tospecific receptors on mammalian cell surfaces (adherence). Teichoic acids are important factors invirulence. Lipoteichoic acids are shed into the media and host and, although weaker, can initiate endotoxic-like activities.
:: Gram Negative Bacteria ::
Gram negative cell walls are more complex than Gram positive cell walls, both structurally andchemically. Structurally, a Gram negative cell wall contains two layers external to the cytoplasmicmembrane. Immediately external to the cytoplasmic membrane is a thin peptidoglycan layer, whichaccounts for only 5% to 10% of the Gram negative cell wall by weight. There are no teichoic or lipoteichoic acids in the Gram negative cell wall. External to the peptidoglycan layer is the outer membrane, which is unique to Gram negative bacteria. The area between the external surface of thecytoplasmic membrane and the internal surface of the outer membrane is referred to as the periplasmicspace. This space is actually a compartment containing a variety of hydrolytic enzymes, which areimportant to the cell for the breakdown of large macromolecules for metabolism. These enzymes typicallyinclude proteases, phosphatases, lipases, nucleases, and carbohydrate-degrading enzymes. In the case of  pathogenic Gram negative species, many of the lytic virulence factors such as collagenases, hyaluronidases, proteases, and beta-lactamase are in the periplasmic space. This space also contains components of thesugar transport systems and other binding proteins to facilitate the uptake of different metabolites and other compounds. Some binding proteins can be components of a chemotaxis system, which senses the externalenvironment of the cell.
Comparison of the Gram positive and Gram negative bacterial cell walls. A, a Gram positive bacterium has a thick peptidoglycan layer that contains teichoic and lipoteichoic acids. B, a Gram negative bacterium has a thin peptidoglycan layer and an outer membrane that contains lipopolysaccharide, phospholipids, and proteins. The periplasmic space between thecytoplasmic and outer membranes contains transport, degradative, and cell wasll synthetic proteins. The outer membrane is joined to the cytoplasmic membrane at adhesion points and isattached to the peptidoglycan by lipoprotein links.
As mentioned previously, outer membranes are unique to Gram negative prokaryotes. The outer membrane is like a stiff canvas sack around the bacteria. The outer membrane maintains the bacterialstructure and is a permeability barrier to large molecules (e.g., proteins such as Lysozyme) andhydrophobic molecules. It also provides protection from adverse environmental conditions such as thedigestive system of the host (important for 
organisms). The outer membrane has anasymmetric bilayer structure that differs from any other biologic membrane in the structure of the outer leaflet of the membrane. The inner leaflet contains phospholipids normally found in bacterial membranes.However, the outer leaflet is composed primarily of an amphipathic molecule (meaning that it has bothhydrophobic and hydrophilic ends) called lipopolysaecharide (LPS). Except for those LPS molecules in the process of synthesis, the outer leaflet of the outer membrane is the only location where LPS molecules arefound.LPS is also called endotoxin, a powerful stimulator of immune responses. LPS activates B cells andinduces macrophage and other cells to release interleukin-I and interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor, andother factors. LPS causes fever and can cause shock. The Shwartzman reaction (disseminated intravascular coagulation) follows the release of large amounts of endotoxin into the blood stream. LPS is shed from the bacteria into the media and host.
 Neisseria meningitidis
sheds large amounts of a related compound,lipooligosaccharide (LOS), resulting in fever and symptoms.The variety of proteins found in Gram negative outer membranes is limited, but several of the proteinsare present in high concentration, resulting in a total protein content higher than that of the cytoplasmicmembrane. Many of the proteins traverse the entire lipid bilayer and are thus transmembrane proteins. Agroup of these proteins is known as porins because they form pores that allow the diffusion of hydrophilicmolecules less than 700 Da in mass through the membrane. The outer membrane and the porin channelallow passage of metabolites and small hydrophilic antibiotics, but the outer membrane is a barrier for largeor hydrophobic antibiotics and proteins such as 1ysozyme.The outer membrane also contains structural proteins and receptor molecules for bacteriophages andother ligands. The outer membrane is connected to the cytoplasmic membrane at adhesion sites and is tiedto the peptidoglycan by lipoprotein. The lipoprotein is covalently attached to the peptidoglycan and isanchored in the outer membrane. The adhesion sites provide a membranous route for the delivery of newly

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