The functions of autolysins in the growth and division of Bacillus subtilis

Critical Reviews in Microbiology
R J Doyle, A L Koch

Abstract

Some bacteria, such as streptococci, exhibit growth from discrete and well-defined zones. In Streptococcus faecalis, growth zones can be observed in the electron microscope, and the position of the zone can be used as a marker for cell cycle events. Growth of the cell surface of Bacillus subtilis appears to be by a much different mechanism from that of streptococci. Cell elongation takes place by the insertion at many sites in the cell cylinder of peptidoglycan components. The insertion occurs on the inner face of the wall, and upon cross linking, the new wall material becomes stress bearing and older wall is pushed to the surface. When old wall reaches the surface, it becomes susceptible to excision by autolysins, resulting in wall turnover; cell elongation, due to the stretching of the cross-linked peptidoglycan, therefore, accompanies turnover and does not require a specialized growth zone.

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