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Summary

MreB proteins play a major role during morphogenesis of rod-shaped bacteria by organizing biosynthesis of the peptidoglycan cell wall. However, the mechanisms underlying this process are not well understood. In Bacillus subtilis, membrane-associated MreB polymers have been shown to be associated to elongation-specific complexes containing transmembrane morphogenetic factors and extracellular cell wall assembly proteins. We have now found that an early intracellular step of cell wall synthesis is also associated to MreB. We show that the previously uncharacterized protein YkuR (renamed DapI) is required for synthesis of meso-diaminopimelate (m-DAP), an essential constituent of the peptidoglycan precursor, and that it physically interacts with MreB. Highly inclined laminated optical sheet microscopy revealed that YkuR forms uniformly distributed foci that exhibit fast motion in the cytoplasm, and are not detected in cells lacking MreB. We propose a model in which soluble MreB organizes intracellular steps of peptidoglycan synthesis in the cytoplasm to feed the membrane-associated cell wall synthesizing machineries.