Lookup NU author(s): Dr Romain Mercier,
Dr Yoshikazu Kawai,
Professor Jeff Errington
This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Nature Publishing Group, 2016.
For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
The peptidoglycan cell wall is a major protective external sheath in bacteria and a key target for antibiotics(1). Peptidoglycan is present in virtually all bacteria, suggesting that it was probably present in the last bacterial common ancestor(2). Cell wall expansion is orchestrated by cytoskeletal proteins related to actin (MreB) and tubulin (FtsZ)(3). FtsZ is a key essential player in a highly organized division machine that directs an invaginating annulus of cell wall peptidoglycan. The recent discovery that cell-wall-less bacteria (L-forms) can grow and divide independently of FtsZ(4,5,) provided a means of generating an ftsZ null mutant of Escherichia coli. Remarkably, we have been able to isolate variants of E. coli that lack FtsZ but are capable of efficient growth in a walled state. Genetic analysis reveals that a combination of mutations is needed for this phenotype. Importantly, the suppressive mutations lead to a major cell shape change, from the normal cylindrical shape to a branched and bulging, ramified shape, which we call 'coli-flower'. The results highlight the versatility of bacterial cells and illustrate possible evolutionary routes leading to the emergence of specialized bacteria, such as pathogenic Chlamydia or aquatic Planctomycetes, that lack FtsZ but retain the cell wall(6-8).
Author(s): Mercier R, Kawai Y, Errington J
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Nature Microbiology
Print publication date: 01/08/2016
Online publication date: 27/06/2016
Acceptance date: 09/05/2016
ISSN (electronic): 2058-5276
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
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