The morphological appearance of deproteinized Group A and C streptococcal walls after treatment by different procedures extracting teichoic acids and polysaccharides (formamide, hydrochloric acid, nitrous acid, trichloroacetic acid, sulphuric acid, sodium hydroxide and sodium deoxycholate) was compared with the content of teichoic acids and polysaccharides remaining in the treated walls. All procedures extracted teichoic acids almost completely, but polysaccharides were extracted to various degrees. The ultrastructural appearance of walls after these extractions still exhibited the triple-layered wall profile; only a reduction of thickness of the wall and of electron density of the layers occurred. There was no direct correlation between the reduction of rhamnose content and thickness of walls.

The ultrastructural localization of peptidoglycan in the streptococcal walls was explored by means of the indirect immunoferritin technique using anti-peptidoglycan antibodies isolated from anti-Group A-variant antisera. Ferritin particles were bound predominantly to filamentous structures which protruded from both surfaces of peptidoglycan fragments and isolated walls. Peptidoglycan was also detected on the filamentous protrusions of whole cocci. These results contradict models of the streptococcal wall in which peptidoglycan forms the innermost layer and support a mosaic structure in which peptidoglycan forms a network of the peptidoglycan-polysaccharide complex.


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