Food Science and Technology Department


Date of this Version



J Struct Biol. 2008 July ; 163(1): 10–17. doi:10.1016/j.jsb.2008.03.009


Using cryo-electron tomography, we are developing a refined description of native cellular structures in the pathogenic spirochete Treponema denticola. Tightly organized bundles of periplasmic flagella were readily observed in intact plunge-frozen cells. The periplasmic space was measured in both wild-type and aflagellate strains, and found to widen by less than the diameter of flagella when the latter are present. This suggests that a structural change occurs in the peptidoglycan layer to accommodate the presence of the flagella. In dividing cells, the flagellar filaments were found to bridge the cytoplasmic cylinder constriction site. Cytoplasmic filaments, adjacent to the inner membrane, run parallel to the tightly organized flagellar filaments. The cytoplasmic filaments may be anchored by a narrow plate-like structure. The tapering of the cell ends was conserved between cells, with a patella-shaped structure observed in the periplasm at the tip of each cytoplasmic cylinder. Several incompletely characterized structures have been observed in the periplasm between dividing cells, including a cable-like structure linking two cytoplasmic cylinders and complex foil-shaped structures.

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