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Keywords:

  • bacterial cytoskeleton;
  • intermediate filaments;
  • coiled-coil-rich proteins;
  • crescentin;
  • bactofilins;
  • DivIVA;
  • PopZ

Bacteria possess a diverse set of cytoskeletal proteins that mediate key cellular processes such as morphogenesis, cell division, DNA segregation, and motility. Similar to eukaryotic actin or tubulin, many of them require nucleotide binding and hydrolysis for proper polymerization and function. However, there is also a growing number of bacterial cytoskeletal elements that assemble in a nucleotide-independent manner, including intermediate filament-like structures as well several classes of bacteria-specific polymers. The members of this group form stable scaffolds that have architectural roles or act as localization factors recruiting other proteins to distinct positions within the cell. Here, we highlight the elements that constitute the nucleotide-independent cytoskeleton of bacteria and discuss their biological functions in different species. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.