A sweet twist gets Bacillus into shape


E-mail patrick.viollier@unige.ch; Tel. (+41) 22 379 41 75; Fax (+41) 22 379 55 02.


A protective organelle that is essential for viability under most conditions, the cell wall is a dynamic structure that is continuously remodelled with the growth of the bacterial cell. Because the cell wall also moulds the bacterium, the mechanisms of cell wall homeostasis can be deciphered using cell shape as a convenient proxy. In this issue of Molecular Microbiology, Foulquier et al. illuminate a connection between cell shape regulation and metabolism in Bacillus subtilis. They find that the putative NAD(P)-binding enzyme YvcK organizes into helical subcellular structures that exert shape control by directing the cell wall biosynthetic enzyme PBP1 along the cell cylinder and to the septum, a function shared with the MreB actin cytoskeleton. Unlike MreB, however, the role of YvcK in cell shape control is manifested only on certain carbon sources, presumably by way of a previously unknown metabolic feed that taps into cell morphogenesis.