The cell shape proteins MreB and MreC control cell morphogenesis by positioning cell wall synthetic complexes


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MreB, the bacterial actin homologue, is thought to function in spatially co-ordinating cell morphogenesis in conjunction with MreC, a protein that wraps around the outside of the cell within the periplasmic space. In Caulobacter crescentus, MreC physically associates with penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) which catalyse the insertion of intracellularly synthesized precursors into the peptidoglycan cell wall. Here we show that MreC is required for the spatial organization of components of the peptidoglycan-synthesizing holoenzyme in the periplasm and MreB directs the localization of a peptidoglycan precursor synthesis protein in the cytosol. Additionally, fluorescent vancomycin (Van-FL) labelling revealed that the bacterial cytoskeletal proteins MreB and FtsZ, as well as MreC and RodA, were required for peptidoglycan synthetic activity. MreB and FtsZ were found to be required for morphogenesis of the polar stalk. FtsZ was required for a cell cycle-regulated burst of peptidoglycan synthesis early in the cell cycle resulting in the synthesis of cross-band structures, whereas MreB was required for lengthening of the stalk. Thus, the bacterial cytoskeleton and cell shape-determining proteins such as MreC, function in concert to orchestrate the localization of cell wall synthetic complexes resulting in spatially co-ordinated and efficient peptidoglycan synthetic activity.