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Mol Microbiol. 2012 Sep;85(6):1090-104. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08159.x. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

The small protein MbiA interacts with MreB and modulates cell shape in Caulobacter crescentus.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Lewis Thomas Laboratory, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.


In Caulobacter crescentus, the actin homologue MreB is critical for cell shape maintenance. Despite the central importance of MreB for cell morphology and viability, very little is known about MreB-interacting factors. Here, we use an overexpression approach to identify a novel MreB interactor, MbiA. MbiA interacts with MreB in both biochemical and genetic assays, colocalizes with MreB throughout the cell cycle, and relies on MreB for its localization. MbiA overexpression mimics the loss of MreB function, severely perturbing cell morphology, inhibiting growth and inducing cell lysis. Additionally, mbiA deletion shows a synthetic growth phenotype with a hypomorphic allele of the MreB interactor RodZ, suggesting that these two MreB-interacting proteins either have partially redundant functions or participate in the same functional complex. Our work thus establishes MbiA as a novel cell shape regulator that appears to function through regulating MreB, and opens avenues for discovery of more MreB-regulating factors by showing that overexpression screens are a valuable tool for uncovering potentially redundant cell shape effectors.

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