Peptidoglycan structure and architecture


  • Editor: Arie van der Ende

Correspondence: Waldemar Vollmer, Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Catherine Cookson Building, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, UK. Tel.: +44 0 191 222 6295; fax: +44 0 191 222 7424; e-mail:


The peptidoglycan (murein) sacculus is a unique and essential structural element in the cell wall of most bacteria. Made of glycan strands cross-linked by short peptides, the sacculus forms a closed, bag-shaped structure surrounding the cytoplasmic membrane. There is a high diversity in the composition and sequence of the peptides in the peptidoglycan from different species. Furthermore, in several species examined, the fine structure of the peptidoglycan significantly varies with the growth conditions. Limited number of biophysical data on the thickness, elasticity and porosity of peptidoglycan are available. The different models for the architecture of peptidoglycan are discussed with respect to structural and physical parameters.