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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2006 Dec;70(4):888-909.

The bacterial actin-like cytoskeleton.

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  • 1Génétique Microbienne, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, France.

Erratum in

  • Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2007 Mar;71(1):254.


Recent advances have shown conclusively that bacterial cells possess distant but true homologues of actin (MreB, ParM, and the recently uncovered MamK protein). Despite weak amino acid sequence similarity, MreB and ParM exhibit high structural homology to actin. Just like F-actin in eukaryotes, MreB and ParM assemble into highly dynamic filamentous structures in vivo and in vitro. MreB-like proteins are essential for cell viability and have been implicated in major cellular processes, including cell morphogenesis, chromosome segregation, and cell polarity. ParM (a plasmid-encoded actin homologue) is responsible for driving plasmid-DNA partitioning. The dynamic prokaryotic actin-like cytoskeleton is thought to serve as a central organizer for the targeting and accurate positioning of proteins and nucleoprotein complexes, thereby (and by analogy to the eukaryotic cytoskeleton) spatially and temporally controlling macromolecular trafficking in bacterial cells. In this paper, the general properties and known functions of the actin orthologues in bacteria are reviewed.

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