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Biophys J. 2009 Apr 22;96(8):L47-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.02.010.

Morphology of Caulobacter crescentus and the Mechanical Role of Crescentin.


Bacterial cells exist in a wide variety of shapes. To understand the mechanism of bacterial shape maintenance, we investigate the morphology of Caulobacter crescentus, which is a Gram-negative bacterium that adopts a helical crescent shape. It is known that crescentin, an intermediate filament homolog of C. crescentus, is required for maintaining this asymmetrical cell shape. We employ a continuum model to understand the interaction between the bacterial cell wall and the crescentin bundle. The model allows us to examine different scenarios of attaching crescentin to the cell wall and compute the shape of the bacterium. Results show that if the sole influence of crescentin is mechanical, then the crescentin bundle is unrealistically rigid and must be attached to the cell wall directly. The model suggests that alternative roles for crescentin such as how it influences cell wall growth must be considered.

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