Envelope Structures of Gram-Positive Bacteria

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2017;404:1-44. doi: 10.1007/82_2015_5021.


Gram-positive organisms, including the pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Enterococcus faecalis, have dynamic cell envelopes that mediate interactions with the environment and serve as the first line of defense against toxic molecules. Major components of the cell envelope include peptidoglycan (PG), which is a well-established target for antibiotics, teichoic acids (TAs), capsular polysaccharides (CPS), surface proteins, and phospholipids. These components can undergo modification to promote pathogenesis, decrease susceptibility to antibiotics and host immune defenses, and enhance survival in hostile environments. This chapter will cover the structure, biosynthesis, and important functions of major cell envelope components in gram-positive bacteria. Possible targets for new antimicrobials will be noted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Capsules / chemistry
  • Biofilms
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / chemistry*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Immune Evasion
  • Lipopolysaccharides / biosynthesis
  • Lipopolysaccharides / chemistry
  • Peptidoglycan / biosynthesis
  • Peptidoglycan / chemistry
  • Teichoic Acids / biosynthesis
  • Teichoic Acids / chemistry


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Peptidoglycan
  • Teichoic Acids
  • lipoteichoic acid