Differentiated roles for MreB-actin isologues and autolytic enzymes in Bacillus subtilis morphogenesis


For correspondence. E-mail Patricia.Dominguez-Cuevas@ncl.ac.uk; Tel. (+44) (0) 191 208 3232; Fax (+44) (0) 191 208 3237; or E-mail jeff.errington@ncl.ac.uk; Tel. (+44) (0) 191 208 3232; Fax (+44) (0) 191 208 3237.


Cell morphogenesis in most bacteria is governed by spatiotemporal growth regulation of the peptidoglycan cell wall layer. Much is known about peptidoglycan synthesis but regulation of its turnover by hydrolytic enzymes is much less well understood. Bacillus subtilis has a multitude of such enzymes. Two of the best characterized are CwlO and LytE: cells lacking both enzymes have a lethal block in cell elongation. Here we show that activity of CwlO is regulated by an ABC transporter, FtsEX, which is required for cell elongation, unlike cell division as in Escherichia coli. Actin-like MreB proteins are thought to play a key role in orchestrating cell wall morphogenesis. B. subtilis has three MreB isologues with partially differentiated functions. We now show that the three MreB isologues have differential roles in regulation of the CwlO and LytE systems and that autolysins control different aspects of cell morphogenesis. The results add major autolytic activities to the growing list of functions controlled by MreB isologues in bacteria and provide new insights into the different specialized functions of essential cell wall autolysins.