Molecular mechanics of the mycobacterial cell wall: from horizontal layers to vertical scaffolds

Int J Med Microbiol. 2000 Jul;290(3):251-8. doi: 10.1016/S1438-4221(00)80122-8.


Current models depicting the structural organization of the mycobacterial cell wall assume peptidoglycan and galactan strands to run in parallel to the cytoplasmic membrane forming several horizontal layers beneath perpendicularly oriented mycolic acids. Following a thorough re-evaluation of the currently available chemical, biochemical and electron microscopical data, we propose a fundamentally distinct principle of the physical organization and biosynthesis of the mycobacterial cell wall skeleton. According to this new concept, the solid and elastic matrix that makes the mycobacterial cell wall a formidably impermeable barrier is the direct consequence of cross-linked glycan strands which all run in a direction perpendicular to the cytoplasmic membrane.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Galactans / chemistry
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mycobacterium / chemistry
  • Mycobacterium / cytology*
  • Mycobacterium / ultrastructure
  • Mycolic Acids / chemistry
  • Peptidoglycan / chemistry*
  • Peptidoglycan / ultrastructure


  • Galactans
  • Mycolic Acids
  • Peptidoglycan