which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Although archaea have a similar cellular organization as other prokaryotes, the lipid composition of their membranes and their cell surface is unique. Here we discuss recent developments in our understanding of the archaeal protein secretion mechanisms, the assembly of macromolecular cell surface structures, and the release of S-layer-coated vesicles from the archaeal membrane. 1. The Archaeal Cell Envelope The ability of many archaea to endure extreme conditions in hostile environments intrigues researchers to study the molecular mechanisms and specific adaptations involved. Very early, it was realized that the structure of the archaeal cell envelope differs substantially from that of bacteria . With the only exception of Ignicoccus which exhibits an outer membrane enclosing a huge periplasmic space , known archaea possess only a single membrane. This cytoplasmic membrane is enclosed by an S-layer, a two-dimensional protein crystal that fully covers the cells (see review Jarrel
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