Bacterial cell shape

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2005 Aug;3(8):601-10. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1205.


Bacterial species have long been classified on the basis of their characteristic cell shapes. Despite intensive research, the molecular mechanisms underlying the generation and maintenance of bacterial cell shape remain largely unresolved. The field has recently taken an important step forward with the discovery that eukaryotic cytoskeletal proteins have homologues in bacteria that affect cell shape. Here, we discuss how a bacterium gains and maintains its shape, the challenges still confronting us and emerging strategies for answering difficult questions in this rapidly evolving field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / chemistry*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / cytology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / physiology
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / cytology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Penicillin-Binding Proteins