:: 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
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.