Cytoskeletal elements in the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae

Naturwissenschaften. 2002 Oct;89(10):453-8. doi: 10.1007/s00114-002-0359-2. Epub 2002 Sep 10.


Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a pathogenic eubacterium lacking a cell wall. Three decades ago, a "rod", an intracellular cytoskeletal structure, was discovered that was assumed to define and stabilize the elongated cell shape. Later, by treatment with detergent, a "Triton shell" (i.e. a fraction of detergent-insoluble cell material) could be obtained, believed to contain additional cytoskeletal elements. Now, by application of a modified Triton X-100 treatment, we are able to demonstrate that M. pneumoniae possesses a cytoskeleton consisting of a blade-like rod and a peripheral lining located close to the inner face of the cytoplasmic membrane, exhibiting features of a highly regular network. Attached "stalks" may support the cytoplasmic membrane. The rod was connected to the cell periphery by "spokes" and showed a defined ultrastructure. Its proximal end was found to be attached to a wheel-like complex. Fibrils extended from the proximal end of the rod into the cytoplasm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Fractionation / methods
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / ultrastructure*