MreB, the cell shape-determining bacterial actin homologue, co-ordinates cell wall morphogenesis in Caulobacter crescentus

Authors

  • Rainer M. Figge,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569, USA.
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  • Arun V. Divakaruni,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569, USA.
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  • James W. Gober

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569, USA.
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E-mail gober@chem.ucla.edu; Tel. (+1) 310 206 9449; Fax (+1) 310 206 5213.

Summary

The bacterial actin homologue, MreB, is required for the maintenance of a rod-shaped cell and has been shown to form spirals that traverse along the longitudinal axis of Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli cells. The depletion of MreB in Caulobacter crescentus resulted in lemon-shaped cells that possessed defects in the integrity of the cell wall. MreB localization appeared as bands or spirals that encircled the cell along its entire length and switched to a mid-cell location at a time that coincided with the initiation of cell division. The formation of smaller MreB spirals or bands at the mid-cell was dependent on the presence on the cytokinetic protein, FtsZ. Penicillin-binding protein 2 (PBP2) also formed band-like structures perpendicular to the cell periphery that resembled, and depended upon, MreB localization. PBP2 co-immunoprecipitated with several other penicillin-binding proteins, suggesting that these proteins are in association in Caulobacter cells. We hypothesize that MreB filaments function as a cytoskeleton that serves as an organizer or tracking device for the PBP2–peptidoglycan biosynthesis complex.

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