Cell morphology and viability in Eubacteria is dictated by the architecture of peptidoglycan, the major and essential structural component of the cell wall. Although the biochemical composition of peptidoglycan is well understood, how the peptidoglycan architecture can accommodate the dynamics of growth and division while maintaining cell shape remains largely unknown. Here, we elucidate the peptidoglycan architecture and dynamics of bacteria with ovoid cell shape (ovococci), which includes a number of important pathogens, by combining biochemical analyses with atomic force and super-resolution microscopies. Atomic force microscopy analysis showed preferential orientation of the peptidoglycan network parallel to the short axis of the cell, with distinct architectural features associated with septal and peripheral wall synthesis. Super-resolution three-dimensional structured illumination fluorescence microscopy was applied for the first time in bacteria to unravel the dynamics of peptidoglycan assembly in ovococci. The ovococci have a unique peptidoglycan architecture and growth mode not observed in other model organisms.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.