Assembly of the Mycobacterial Cell Wall

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2015:69:405-23. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-091014-104121.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis remains one of the most successful bacterial pathogens, claiming over 1.3 million lives worldwide in 2013. The emergence of multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant isolates has prompted the need for new drugs and drug targets. M. tuberculosis possesses an unusual cell wall dominated by lipids and carbohydrates that provides a permeability barrier against hydrophilic drugs and is crucial for its survival and virulence. This large macromolecular structure, termed the mycolyl-arabinogalactan-peptidoglycan complex, and the phosphatidyl-myo-inositol-based lipoglycans are key features of the mycobacterial cell wall. Assembly of these cell wall components is an attractive target for the development of chemotherapeutics against tuberculosis. Herein, we focus on recent biochemical and molecular insights into these complex molecules of M. tuberculosis cell wall.

Keywords: arabinogalactan; biosynthesis; cell wall; lipoarabinomannan; mycolic acids; peptidoglycan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / chemistry*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Galactans / biosynthesis
  • Galactans / chemistry
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / chemistry*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / cytology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism
  • Mycolic Acids / chemistry
  • Mycolic Acids / metabolism
  • Peptidoglycan / biosynthesis
  • Peptidoglycan / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / chemistry


  • Galactans
  • Mycolic Acids
  • Peptidoglycan
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial