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Electron microscopy studies of the limiting layers of the rickettsia Coxiella burneti.

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Abstract

Surface layers of Coxiella burneti studied at a high resoulution reveal a plasma membrane and an outer surface membrane 6 to 7 nm thick, and a thin, moderately electron-dense intermediate layer associated with the inner surface of the outer membrane of many cells. This layer appears to be unaffected by lysozyme treatment. Ruthenium red staining was used to delineate a layer of filamentous material external to the outer membrane; this fuzzy layer has a mean thickness of 20 nm and is not often seen on the surface of cells prepared by conventional means. Both antigenic phase I and II cells show a ruthenium red-binding surface layer. It is suggested that this fuzzy layer may be, among other possibilities, a highly branched mucopolysaccharide.

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