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EMBO J. 2009 May 6;28(9):1208-19. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.61. Epub 2009 Mar 12.

Bacterial cell curvature through mechanical control of cell growth.

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1
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.

Abstract

The cytoskeleton is a key regulator of cell morphogenesis. Crescentin, a bacterial intermediate filament-like protein, is required for the curved shape of Caulobacter crescentus and localizes to the inner cell curvature. Here, we show that crescentin forms a single filamentous structure that collapses into a helix when detached from the cell membrane, suggesting that it is normally maintained in a stretched configuration. Crescentin causes an elongation rate gradient around the circumference of the sidewall, creating a longitudinal cell length differential and hence curvature. Such curvature can be produced by physical force alone when cells are grown in circular microchambers. Production of crescentin in Escherichia coli is sufficient to generate cell curvature. Our data argue for a model in which physical strain borne by the crescentin structure anisotropically alters the kinetics of cell wall insertion to produce curved growth. Our study suggests that bacteria may use the cytoskeleton for mechanical control of growth to alter morphology.

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PMID:
19279668
PMCID:
PMC2683044
DOI:
10.1038/emboj.2009.61
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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