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Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice:
doi: 10.1097/01.idc.0000240862.74564.57
Immunology/Microbiology for ID

The Bacterial Cell Wall: The Armor, Artillery, and Achilles Heel

Bower, Sam*; Rosenthal, Ken S. PhD†

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Abstract

Abstract: The bacterial cell wall, like the outer shell of a submarine or a spaceship, is the armor of the bacteria which contains and protects its cytoplasmic contents. The cell wall also contains attachment, invasion, and toxin-secretory weapon systems (artillery). The importance of the cell wall makes it an Achilles heel, and disruption of the cell wall kills the bacteria. This review provides an overview of the structure of the bacterial cell wall, its components and their role as virulence factors, and the vulnerability of the cell wall as a target for antimicrobials and host innate and immune defenses.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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