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MreB drives de novo rod morphogenesis in Caulobacter crescentus via remodeling of the cell wall

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Waldemar Vollmer


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MreB, the bacterial actin-like cytoskeleton, is required for the rod morphology of many bacterial species. Disruption of MreB function results in loss of rod morphology and cell rounding. Here, we show that the widely used MreB inhibitor A22 causes MreB-independent growth inhibition that varies with the drug concentration, culture medium conditions, and bacterial species tested. MP265, an A22 structural analog, is less toxic than A22 for growth yet equally efficient for disrupting the MreB cytoskeleton. The action of A22 and MP265 is enhanced by basic pH of the culture medium. Using this knowledge and the rapid reversibility of drug action, we examined the restoration of rod shape in lemon-shaped Caulobacter crescentus cells pretreated with MP265 or A22 under nontoxic conditions. We found that reversible restoration of MreB function after drug removal causes extensive morphological changes including a remarkable cell thinning accompanied with elongation, cell branching, and shedding of outer membrane vesicles. We also thoroughly characterized the composition of C. crescentus peptidoglycan by high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry and showed that MreB disruption and recovery of rod shape following restoration of MreB function are accompanied by considerable changes in composition. Our results provide insight into MreB function in peptidoglycan remodeling and rod shape morphogenesis and suggest that MreB promotes the transglycosylase activity of penicillin-binding proteins.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Takacs CN, Poggio S, Charbon G, Pucheault M, Vollmer W, Jacobs-Wagner C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Bacteriology

Year: 2010

Volume: 192

Issue: 6

Pages: 1671-1684

Print publication date: 01/03/2010

ISSN (print): 0021-9193

ISSN (electronic): 1098-5530

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology


DOI: 10.1128/JB.01311-09


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Funder referenceFunder name
PEW Latin American Fellowship
Yale College Dean's Office Science, Technology and Research Scholars (STARS) II fellowship
European Commission
Human Frontier Science Program Organization for a Cross Disciplinary Fellowship
GM065835National Institutes of Health
GM076698National Institutes of Health