Caltech Researchers Use Electron Cryotomography to Get First 3-D Glimpse of Bacterial Cell-Wall Architecture

| November 23, 2008

The bacterial cell wall that is the target of potent antibiotics such as penicillin is actually made up of a thin single layer of carbohydrate chains, linked together by peptides, which wrap around the bacterium like a belt around a person, according to research conducted by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

These findings represent important advances in both biology and imaging technology.  The authors of a study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) have made available to me their manuscript and the images in the publication.

This first-ever glimpse of the cell-wall structure in three dimensions was made possible by new high-tech microscopy techniques that enabled the scientists to visualize these biological structures at nanometer scales.

"This is both a technological and biological advance," says Grant Jensen, associate professor of biology at Caltech, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and the principal investigator on the study.

Here is one image that will not be included in the publication itself that illustrates the cell wall structure and one of the 3D reconstruction.  Look for the full article in PNAS online early edition very soon.

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Category: Clinical Laboratories, Microscopy, Publications

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