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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The deletion of bacterial dynamin and flotillin genes results in pleiotrophic effects on cell division, cell growth and in cell shape maintenance

Felix Dempwolff12, Hanna M Wischhusen13, Mara Specht1 and Peter L Graumann12*

Author Affiliations

1 Mikrobiologie, Fachbereich für Biologie, University of Freiburg, Schänzlestraße 1, Freiburg, 79104, Germany

2 LOEWE Center for Synthetic Microbiology, SYNMIKRO, Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, 35043, Germany

3 BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies, University of Freiburg, Schänzlestr. 18, Freiburg, 79108, Germany

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:298  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-298

Published: 19 December 2012

Abstract

Background

In eukaryotic cells, dynamin and flotillin are involved in processes such as endocytosis and lipid raft formation, respectively. Dynamin is a GTPase that exerts motor-like activity during the pinching off of vesicles, while flotillins are coiled coil rich membrane proteins with no known enzymatic activity. Bacteria also possess orthologs of both classes of proteins, but their function has been unclear.

Results

We show that deletion of the single dynA or floT genes lead to no phenotype or a mild defect in septum formation in the case of the dynA gene, while dynA floT double mutant cells were highly elongated and irregularly shaped, although the MreB cytoskeleton appeared to be normal. DynA colocalizes with FtsZ, and the dynA deletion strain shows aberrant FtsZ rings in a subpopulation of cells. The mild division defect of the dynA deletion is exacerbated by an additional deletion in ezrA, which affects FtsZ ring formation, and also by the deletion of a late division gene (divIB), indicating that DynA affects several steps in cell division. DynA and mreB deletions generated a synthetic defect in cell shape maintenance, showing that MreB and DynA play non-epistatic functions in cell shape maintenance. TIRF microscopy revealed that FloT forms many dynamic membrane assemblies that frequently colocalize with the division septum. The deletion of dynA did not change the pattern of localization of FloT, and vice versa, showing that the two proteins play non redundant roles in a variety of cellular processes. Expression of dynamin or flotillin T in eukaryotic S2 cells revealed that both proteins assemble at the cell membrane. While FloT formed patch structures, DynA built up tubulated structures extending away from the cells.

Conclusions

Bacillus subtilis dynamin ortholog DynA plays a role during cell division and in cell shape maintenance. It shows a genetic link with flotillin T, with both proteins playing non-redundant functions at the cell membrane, where they assemble even in the absence of any bacterial cofactor.