Peptidoglycan, also known as murein, is a polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

 consisting of sugars and amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

s that forms a mesh-like layer outside the plasma membrane of bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

 (but not Archaea
The Archaea are a group of single-celled microorganisms. A single individual or species from this domain is called an archaeon...

), forming the cell wall
Cell wall
The cell wall is the tough, usually flexible but sometimes fairly rigid layer that surrounds some types of cells. It is located outside the cell membrane and provides these cells with structural support and protection, and also acts as a filtering mechanism. A major function of the cell wall is to...

. The sugar component consists of alternating residues of β-(1,4) linked N-acetylglucosamine
N-Acetylglucosamine is a monosaccharide derivative of glucose. It is an amide between glucosamine and acetic acid...

 and N-acetylmuramic acid
N-Acetylmuramic acid
N-Acetylmuramic acid, or MurNAc, is the ether of lactic acid and N-acetylglucosamine with a chemical formula of C11H19NO8. It is part of a biopolymer in the bacterial cell wall, built from alternating units of N-acetylglucosamine and N-acetylmuramic acid , cross-linked with oligopeptides at the...

. Attached to the N-acetylmuramic acid is a peptide chain of three to five amino acids. The peptide chain can be cross-linked to the peptide chain of another strand forming the 3D mesh-like layer.