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Capsule of Escherichia coli K29: ultrastructural preservation and immunoelectron microscopy.

By M E Bayer, E Carlemalm and E Kellenberger


The polysaccharide capsule of Escherichia coli K29 fully surrounds the microorganism and thus occupies an extracellular space ca. 20 times larger in volume than that of the decapsulated cell. Since more than 95% of the capsule consists of water, dehydration for electron microscopy causes the material to collapse. We describe here a method for embedding the capsule in an uncollapsed form. Dehydration of gelatin-enrobed, glutaraldehyde-fixed cells was performed in dimethyl formamide. The cells were embedded in Lowicryl K4M with the "progressive lowering of temperature" method and UV polymerization. In ultrathin sections, the capsule can be identified by its low electron contrast. It occupies a layer 3/4 micron thick thick and shows fibrous strands embedded in a fine granular matrix. The thin strands extend radially from the cell wall and transverse the capsule. The entire capsule domain, as well as the outer membrane, binds specific anticapsular antibody, whereas the periplasmic space and most of the inner membrane lack capsule-specific immunostain

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1985
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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