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Bacterial cells reveal skeletal structures

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2:47pm, March 28, 2001

Bacteria are different from you and me. Always the minimalists, they lack features that plant and animal cells usually can't do without: a nucleus, special organelles, and an internal skeleton made of protein, to name a few. But research reported in the March 23 Cell knocks out one plank of this standard profile–bacteria, too, have a protein skeleton, or cytoskeleton.

"This is akin to finding the platypus, a mammal that lays eggs," says Laura J.F. Jones, who revealed the skeleton in Bacillus subtilis with her colleagues Rut Carballido-López and Jeffery Errington, all of Oxford University in England.

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