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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cell wall proteome analysis of Mycobacterium smegmatis strain MC2 155

Zhiguo He and Jeroen De Buck*

Author Affiliations

Department of Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:121  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-121

Published: 22 April 2010



The usually non-pathogenic soil bacterium Mycobacterium smegmatis is commonly used as a model mycobacterial organism because it is fast growing and shares many features with pathogenic mycobacteria. Proteomic studies of M. smegmatis can shed light on mechanisms of mycobacterial growth, complex lipid metabolism, interactions with the bacterial environment and provide a tractable system for antimycobacterial drug development. The cell wall proteins are particularly interesting in this respect. The aim of this study was to construct a reference protein map for these proteins in M. smegmatis.


A proteomic analysis approach, based on one dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and LC-MS/MS, was used to identify and characterize the cell wall associated proteins of M. smegmatis. An enzymatic cell surface shaving method was used to determine the surface-exposed proteins. As a result, a total of 390 cell wall proteins and 63 surface-exposed proteins were identified. Further analysis of the 390 cell wall proteins provided the theoretical molecular mass and pI distributions and determined that 26 proteins are shared with the surface-exposed proteome. Detailed information about functional classification, signal peptides and number of transmembrane domains are given next to discussing the identified transcriptional regulators, transport proteins and the proteins involved in lipid metabolism and cell division.


In short, a comprehensive profile of the M. smegmatis cell wall subproteome is reported. The current research may help the identification of some valuable vaccine and drug target candidates and provide foundation for the future design of preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies against mycobacterial diseases.