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MreB Filaments Create Rod Shape By Aligning Along Principal Membrane Curvature.

By Saman Hussain, Carl N. Wivagg, Piotr Szwedziak, Felix Wong, Kaitlin Schaefer, Thierry Izoré, Lars D. Renner, Yingjie Sun, Alexandre W. Bisson Filho, Suzanne Walker, Ariel Amir, Jan Löwe, Ethan Garner

Posted 02 Oct 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/197475

MreB is essential for rod shape in many bacteria. Membrane-associated MreB filaments move around the rod circumference, helping to insert cell wall in the radial direction to reinforce rod shape. To understand how oriented MreB motion arises, we altered the shape of Bacillus subtilis. MreB motion is isotropic in round cells, and orientation is restored when rod shape is externally imposed. Stationary filaments orient within protoplasts, and purified MreB tubulates liposomes in vitro, orienting within tubes. Together, this demonstrates MreB orients along the greatest principal membrane curvature, a conclusion supported with biophysical modeling. We observed that spherical cells regenerate into rods in a local, self-reinforcing manner: rapidly propagating rods emerge from small bulges, exhibiting oriented MreB motion and increased glycan crosslinking. We propose that the coupling of MreB filament alignment to shape-reinforcing peptidoglycan synthesis creates a locally-acting, self-organizing mechanism allowing the rapid establishment and stable maintenance of emergent rod shape.

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