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Summary

The bacterial peptidoglycan, the main component of the cell wall, is synthesized by the penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs). We used immunofluorescence microscopy to determine the cellular localization of all the high molecular weight PBPs of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae, for a wild type and for several PBP-deficient strains. Progression through the cell cycle was investigated by the simultaneous labelling of DNA and the FtsZ protein. Our main findings are: (i) the temporal dissociation of cell wall synthesis, inferred by the localization of PBP2x and PBP1a, from the constriction of the FtsZ-ring; (ii) the localization of PBP2b and PBP2a at duplicated equatorial sites indicating the existence of peripheral peptidoglycan synthesis, which implies a similarity between the mechanism of cell division in bacilli and streptococci; (iii) the abnormal localization of some class A PBPs in PBP-defective mutants which may explain the apparent redundancy of these proteins in S. pneumoniae.