Cell wall assembly in Bacillus megaterium: incorporation of new peptidoglycan by a monomer addition process

David Gally, Ian C. Hancock, Colin R. Harwood, A.R. Archibald

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The pattern of cross-linking in the peptidoglycan of Bacillus megaterium has been studied by the pulsed addition of radiolabeled diaminopimelic acid. The distribution of label in muropeptides, generated by digestion with Chalaropsis muramidase and separated by high-performance liquid chromatography, stabilized after 0.15 of a generation time. The proportion of label in the acceptor and donor positions of isolated muropeptide dimers stabilized over the same period of time. The results have led to the formulation a new model for the assembly of peptidoglycan into the cylindrical wall of B. megaterium by a monomer addition process. Single nascent glycan peptide strands form cross-linkages only with material at the inner surface of the wall. Maturation is a direct consequence of subsequent incorporation of further new glycan peptide strands, and there is no secondary cross-linking process. The initial distribution of muropeptides is constant. It follows that the final pattern of cross-linking in the wall is determined solely by, and can be forecast from, this repetitive pattern of incorporation. In a modified form, this model can also be applied to assembly of cell walls in rod-shaped gram-negative bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2548-55
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1991


  • bacillus megaterium/ultrastructure
  • Cell wall/metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Diaminopimelic Acid/metabolism
  • Muramidase/pharmacology


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