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Localization of enterobacterial common antigen immunoreactivity in the ribosomal cytoplasm of Escherichia coli cells cryosubstituted and embedded at low temperature.

  • G Acker
  • C Kammerer
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1990
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics


The application of two on-section immunogold labeling techniques, the Lowicryl K4M (progressive lowering of temperature) procedure and the cryosection technique of Tokuyasu, in a previous work to study the topology of enterobacterial common antigen (ECA) biosynthesis revealed the presence of label on the outer membrane and in areas associated with the inner side of the cytoplasmic membrane. However, labeling was also observed in the ribosomal cytoplasm. The question of whether the cytoplasmic label was a result of ECA displacement during the more slowly acting aldehyde fixation or whether cytoplasmic ECA precursors are true constituents of the ribosomal cytoplasm could not be resolved from these results. In the study described here, cells of the same Escherichia coli F470 strain were reinvestigated by comparison of the progressive lowering of temperature and improved cryosubstitution-low-temperature embedment techniques. The latter procedure, applied directly to nonpretreated and noncentrifuged cells, led to superior ultrastructural preservation of the cytoplasmic organization, with little opportunity for cytoplasmic antigen displacement after the primary cryofixation step; the label distribution obtained supports the conclusion that N-acetylmannosaminuronic acid (ManNAcA)-containing ECA precursors are real constituents of the ribosomal cytoplasm. Results from tunicamycin inhibition studies of ECA biogenesis in the E. coli mutant 2465 suggested that even the ECA precursor UDP-ManNAcA alone or a chemically unidentified product(s) generated from accumulated ManNAcA residues may react with the monoclonal antibody used, leading to weak but clearly positive cytoplasmic labeling. The relatively intense labeling obtained with cells grown in the absence of the drug can be explained by the reactivity of further ManNAcA-containing ECA precursors with the monoclonal antibody used.

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