Bacterial ancestry of actin and tubulin

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2001 Dec;4(6):634-8. doi: 10.1016/s1369-5274(01)00262-4.


The structural and functional resemblance between the bacterial cell-division protein FtsZ and eukaryotic tubulin was the first indication that the eukaryotic cytoskeleton may have a prokaryotic origin. The bacterial ancestry is made even more obvious by the findings that the bacterial cell-shape-determining proteins Mreb and Mbl form large spirals inside non-spherical cells, and that MreB polymerises in vitro into protofilaments very similar to actin. Recent advances in research on two proteins involved in prokaryotic cytokinesis and cell shape determination that have similar properties to the key components of the eukaryotic cytoskeleton are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / chemistry*
  • Actins / genetics
  • Actins / physiology
  • Bacteria / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Tubulin / chemistry*
  • Tubulin / physiology


  • Actins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • FtsZ protein, Bacteria
  • Tubulin
  • MreB protein, E coli