Deconstructing the Chlamydial Cell Wall
The evolutionary separated Gram-negative Chlamydiales show a biphasic life cycle and replicate exclusively within eukaryotic host cells. Members of the genus Chlamydia are responsible for many acute and chronic diseases in humans, and Chlamydia-related bacteria are emerging pathogens. We revisit past efforts to detect cell wall material in Chlamydia and Chlamydia-related bacteria in the context of recent breakthroughs in elucidating the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of the chlamydial cell wall biosynthesis. In this review, we also discuss the role of cell wall biosynthesis in chlamydial FtsZ-independent cell division and immune modulation. In the past, penicillin susceptibility of an invisible wall was referred to as the “chlamydial anomaly.” In light of new mechanistic insights, chlamydiae may now emerge as model systems to understand how a minimal and modified cell wall biosynthetic machine supports bacterial cell division and how cell wall-targeting beta-lactam antibiotics can also act bacteriostatically rather than bactericidal. On the heels of these discussions, we also delve into the effects of other cell wall antibiotics in individual chlamydial lineages.
Support was received by the intramural funding scheme of the Medical Faculty of Bonn, BONFOR. H.B. received a PhD fellowship from the Jürgen Manchot foundation. B.H. is associated member of the DFG Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation.
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