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Summary

Although the bacterial cell wall has been the subject of decades of investigation, recent studies continue to generate novel and controversial models of its synthesis and assembly. Here we compare and contrast the transcompartmental biosyntheses of peptidoglycan and teichoic acid in Bacillus subtilis. In addition, the current paradigms of B. subtilis wall assembly and structure are distinguished from emerging models of murein insertion and organization. We discuss evidence for the directed, cytoskeleton-dependent insertion of nascent peptidoglycan and the existence of a periplasmic compartment. Furthermore, we summarize the challenges these findings represent to the existing paradigm of murein insertion. Finally, motivated by these new developments, we discuss outstanding issues that remain to be addressed and suggest research directions that may contribute to a better understanding of cell wall assembly in B. subtilis.