Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Life without a wall or division machine in Bacillus subtilis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mark Leaver, Dr Patricia Dominguez Cuevas, Dr Jonathan Coxhead, Dr Richard DanielORCiD, Professor Jeff ErringtonORCiD


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


The cell wall is an essential structure for virtually all bacteria, forming a tough outer shell that protects the cell from damage and osmotic lysis. It is the target of our best antibiotics. L- form strains are wall- deficient derivatives of common bacteria that have been studied for decades. However, they are difficult to generate and typically require growth for many generations on osmotically protective media with antibiotics or enzymes that kill walled forms. Despite their potential importance for understanding antibiotic resistance and pathogenesis, little is known about their basic cell biology or their means of propagation. We have developed a controllable system for generating L- forms in the highly tractable model bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Here, using genome sequencing, we identify a single point mutation that predisposes cells to grow without a wall. We show that propagation of L- forms does not require the normal FtsZ- dependent division machine but occurs by a remarkable extrusion- resolution mechanism. This novel form of propagation provides insights into how early forms of cellular life may have proliferated.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Leaver M, Dominguez-Cuevas P, Coxhead JM, Daniel RA, Errington J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature

Year: 2009

Volume: 457

Issue: 7231

Pages: 849-853

ISSN (print): 0028-0836

ISSN (electronic): 1476-4687

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/nature07742


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric