A coiled-coil-repeat protein ‘Ccrp’ in Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus prevents cellular indentation, but is not essential for vibroid cell morphology


  • Editor: Akio Nakane

Correspondence: Renee E. Sockett, Institute of Genetics, School of Biology, Medical School, University of Nottingham, Derby Road, QMC, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, UK. Tel: +44 115 823 0325; fax: +44 115 823 0338; e-mail: liz.sockett@nottingham.ac.uk


Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus are small, vibroid, predatory bacteria that grow within the periplasmic space of a host Gram-negative bacterium. The intermediate-filament (IF)-like protein crescentin is a member of a broad class of IF-like, coiled-coil-repeat-proteins (CCRPs), discovered in Caulobacter crescentus, where it contributes to the vibroid cell shape. The B. bacteriovorus genome has a single ccrp gene encoding a protein with an unusually long, stutter-free, coiled-coil prediction; the inactivation of this did not alter the vibriod cell shape, but caused cell deformations, visualized as chiselled insets or dents, near the cell poles and a general ‘creased’ appearance, under the negative staining preparation used for electron microscopy, but not in unstained, frozen, hydrated cells. Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus expressing ‘teal’ fluorescent protein (mTFP), as a C-terminal tag on the wild-type Ccrp protein, did not deform under negative staining, suggesting that the function was not impaired. Localization of fluorescent Ccrp–mTFP showed some bias to the cell poles, independent of the cytoskeleton, as demonstrated by the addition of the MreB-specific inhibitor A22. We suggest that the Ccrp protein in B. bacteriovorus contributes as an underlying scaffold, similar to that described for the CCRP protein FilP in Streptomyces coelicolor, preventing cellular indentation, but not contributing to the vibroid shape of the B. bacteriovorus cells.