Cryo-electron tomography of plunge-frozen whole bacteria and vitreous sections to analyze the recently described bacterial cytoplasmic structure, the Stack

Lidia Delgado, Gema Martinez, Carmen Lopez-Iglesias*, Elena Mercade

*Corresponding author for this work

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Cryo-electron tomography (CET) of plunge-frozen whole bacteria and vitreous sections (CETOVIS) were used to revise and expand the structural knowledge of the "Stack", a recently described cytoplasmic structure in the Antarctic bacterium Pseudomonas deceptionensis M1(T). The advantages of both techniques can be complementarily combined to obtain more reliable insights into cells and their components with three-dimensional imaging at different resolutions. Cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) and CET of frozen-hydrated P. deceptionensis M1(T) cells confirmed that Stacks are found at different locations within the cell cytoplasm, in variable number, separately or grouped together, very close to the plasma membrane (PM) and oriented at different angles (from 35? to 90?) to the PM, thus establishing that they were not artifacts of the previous sample preparation methods. CET of plunge-frozen whole bacteria and vitreous sections verified that each Stack consisted of a pile of oval disc-like subunits, each disc being surrounded by a lipid bilayer membrane and separated from each other by a constant distance with a mean value of 5.2?1.3nm. FM4-64 staining and confocal microscopy corroborated the lipid nature of the membrane of the Stacked discs. Stacks did not appear to be invaginations of the PM because no continuity between both membranes was visible when whole bacteria were analyzed. We are still far from deciphering the function of these new structures, but a first experimental attempt links the Stacks with a given phase of the cell replication process. The Authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-229
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Cryo-electron microscopy
  • Cryo-electron tomography
  • Vitreous sections
  • Plunge freezing
  • High-pressure freezing
  • Stacks

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