Table of Contents
ISRN Microbiology
Volume 2013, Article ID 935736, 11 pages
Review Article

Cell Envelope of Corynebacteria: Structure and Influence on Pathogenicity

Lehrstuhl für Mikrobiologie, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Staudtstrβe 5, 91058 Erlangen, Germany

Received 2 December 2012; Accepted 31 December 2012

Academic Editors: S. H. Flint, G. Koraimann, and T. Krishnan

Copyright © 2013 Andreas Burkovski. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To date the genus Corynebacterium comprises 88 species. More than half of these are connected to human and animal infections, with the most prominent member of the pathogenic species being Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which is also the type species of the genus. Corynebacterium species are characterized by a complex cell wall architecture: the plasma membrane of these bacteria is followed by a peptidoglycan layer, which itself is covalently linked to a polymer of arabinogalactan. Bound to this, an outer layer of mycolic acids is found which is functionally equivalent to the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. As final layer, free polysaccharides, glycolipids, and proteins are found. The composition of the different substructures of the corynebacterial cell envelope and their influence on pathogenicity are discussed in this paper.