Surface protein layers (S-layers) often form the only structural component of the archaeal cell wall and are therefore important for cell survival. S-layers have a plethora of cellular functions including maintenance of cell shape, osmotic, and mechanical stability, the formation of a semipermeable protective barrier around the cell, and cell-cell interaction, as well as surface adhesion. Despite the central importance of S-layers for archaeal life, their 3-dimensional (3D) architecture is still poorly understood. Here we present detailed 3D electron cryomicroscopy maps of archaeal S-layers from 3 different Sulfolobus strains. We were able to pinpoint the positions and determine the structure of the 2 subunits SlaA and SlaB. We also present a model describing the assembly of the mature S-layer.
Keywords: S-layers; Sulfolobus; archaea; electron cryotomography; subtomogram averaging.
Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.