The thick waxy coat of mycobacteria, a protective layer against antibiotics and the host's immune system

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Tuberculosis, caused by the pathogenic bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), is the leading cause of death from an infectious disease, with a mortality rate of over a million people per year. This pathogen's remarkable resilience and infectivity is largely due to its unique waxy cell envelope, 40% of which comprises complex lipids. Therefore, an understanding of the structure and function of the cell wall lipids is of huge indirect clinical significance. This review provides a synopsis of the cell envelope and the major lipids contained within, including structure, biosynthesis and roles in pathogenesis.

Bibliographic note

© 2020 The Author(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1983-2006
Number of pages24
JournalThe Biochemical journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2020


  • Cell Membranes, Excitation & Transport, Glycobiology, Microbiology, Molecular Interactions

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