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Establishing Rod-Shape from Spherical, Peptidoglycan-Deficient Bacterial Spores

By Huan Zhang, Garrett A. Mulholland, Sofiene Seef, Shiwei Zhu, Jun Liu, Tâm Mignot, Beiyan Nan

Posted 25 Oct 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/818641 (published DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2001384117)

Chemical-induced spores of the Gram-negative bacterium Myxococcus xanthus are peptidoglycan (PG)-deficient. It is unclear how these spherical spores germinate into rod-shaped, walled cells without preexisting PG templates. We found that germinating spores first synthesize PG randomly on spherical surfaces. MglB, a GTPase-activating protein, forms a cluster that surveys the status of PG growth and stabilizes at one future cell pole. Following MglB, the Ras family GTPase MglA localizes to the second pole. MglA directs molecular motors to transport the bacterial actin homolog MreB and the Rod PG synthesis complexes away from poles. The Rod system establishes rod-shape by elongating PG at nonpolar regions. Thus, the interaction between GTPase, cytoskeletons and molecular motors provides a mechanism for the de novo establishment of rod-shape in bacteria. Significance Spheres and rods are among the most common shapes adopted by walled bacteria, in which the peptidoglycan (PG) cell wall largely determines cell shape. When induced by chemicals, rod-shaped vegetative cells of the Gram-negative bacterium Myxococcus xanthus thoroughly degrade their PG and shrink into spherical spores. As these spores germinate, rod-shaped cells are rebuilt without preexisting templates, which provides a rare opportunity to visualize de novo PG synthesis and bacterial morphogenesis. In this study, we investigated how spherical spores germinate into rods and elucidated a system for rod-shape morphogenesis that includes the Rod PG synthesis system, a GTPase-GAP pair, the MreB cytoskeleton and a molecular motor.

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