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Curr Microbiol. 2013 Nov;67(5):515-21. doi: 10.1007/s00284-013-0392-8. Epub 2013 May 26.

Sublethal high hydrostatic pressure treatment reveals the importance of genes coding cytoskeletal protein in Escherichia coli morphogenesis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Food Microbiology, Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Bioresource Sciences, Nihon University, 1866, Kameino, Fujisawa-shi, 252-0880, Japan.


We studied morphologic changes after sublethal high hydrostatic pressure treatment (HPT) of Escherichia coli K-12 strains in which genes related to the cytoskeleton, cell wall, and cell division had been deleted. Some long filamentous and swelling cells were observed in wild-type bacteria, while some spherical, branched, or collapsed cells were observed in deletion mutants. In particular, ΔzapA and ΔrodZ showed distinguished morphologies. ZapA supports FtsZ, a cytoskeletal protein, forming ring with ZapB. RodZ, a cytoskeletal protein, interacts with MreB, also a cytoskeletal protein, and both factors are necessary for maintaining the rod shape of the cell. These results showed that insufficient formation of FtsZ rings induced cell elongation and that insufficient formation of MreB induced a branched and collapsed cell shape. Therefore, the correct formation of the bacteria cytoskeleton by FtsZ rings and MreB is important for keeping normal cell shape during growth after HPT, and the polymerization of cytoskeletal proteins was a critical target of sublethal HPT. These results indicate that sublethal HPT induces bacterial cell morphologic change and provide important information on the role of genes involved in morphogenesis. Therefore, sublethal HPT may be a good tool for studying the morphogenesis of bacterial cells.

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