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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Bacillus subtilis actin-like protein MreB influences the positioning of the replication machinery and requires membrane proteins MreC/D and other actin-like proteins for proper localization

Hervé Joël Defeu Soufo12 and Peter L Graumann12*

Author Affiliations

1 Biochemie, Fachbereich Chemie, Hans-Meerwein-Straße, Philipps-Universität Marburg, 35032 Marburg, Germany

2 Institut für Mikrobiologie, Biologie II, Universität Freiburg, Stefan-Meier-Str. 19, 79104 Freiburg, Germany

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BMC Cell Biology 2005, 6:10  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-6-10

Published: 3 March 2005

Abstract

Background

Bacterial actin-like proteins have been shown to perform essential functions in several aspects of cellular physiology. They affect cell growth, cell shape, chromosome segregation and polar localization of proteins, and localize as helical filaments underneath the cell membrane. Bacillus subtilis MreB and Mbl have been shown to perform dynamic motor like movements within cells, extending along helical tracks in a time scale of few seconds.

Results

In this work, we show that Bacillus subtilis MreB has a dual role, both in the formation of rod cell shape, and in chromosome segregation, however, its function in cell shape is distinct from that of MreC. Additionally, MreB is important for the localization of the replication machinery to the cell centre, which becomes aberrant soon after depletion of MreB. 3D image reconstructions suggest that frequently, MreB filaments consist of several discontinuous helical filaments with varying length. The localization of MreB was abnormal in cells with decondensed chromosomes, as well as during depletion of Mbl, MreBH and of the MreC/MreD proteins, which we show localize to the cell membrane. Thus, proper positioning of MreB filaments depends on and is affected by a variety of factors in the cell.

Conclusion

Our data provide genetic and cytological links between MreB and the membrane, as well as with other actin like proteins, and further supports the connection of MreB with the chromosome. The functional dependence on MreB of the localization of the replication machinery suggests that the replisome is not anchored at the cell centre, but is positioned in a dynamic manner.