Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 26018339
Nat Commun 2015;6:7193
Cell-wall peptidoglycan (PG) of Gram-positive bacteria is a strong and elastic multi-layer designed to resist turgor pressure and determine the cell shape and growth. Despite its crucial role, its architecture remains largely unknown. Here using high-resolution multiparametric atomic force microscopy (AFM), we studied how the structure and elasticity of PG change when subjected to increasing turgor pressure in live Group B Streptococcus. We show a new net-like arrangement of PG, which stretches and stiffens following osmotic challenge. The same structure also exists in isogenic mutants lacking surface appendages. Cell aging does not alter the elasticity of the cell wall, yet destroys the net architecture and exposes single segmented strands with the same circumferential orientation as predicted for intact glycans. Together, we show a new functional PG architecture in live Gram-positive bacteria.