Roles for MreC and MreD proteins in helical growth of the cylindrical cell wall in Bacillus subtilis

Mol Microbiol. 2005 Sep;57(5):1196-209. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04736.x.


Actin homologues of the MreB family have an important role in specifying the morphology of many non-spherical eubacteria. The mreC and mreD genes have been implicated in control of cell morphology but their precise functions are unknown. In Bacillus subtilis the MreB homologue Mbl directs helical insertion of new cell wall material in the cylindrical part of the rod-shaped cell. Depletion of either MreC or MreD abolishes the control of cell shape. In the presence of high concentrations of magnesium cells depleted of MreC or MreD can be propagated indefinitely, although they have a spheroidal shape. We show that growth of the spheroidal mutants is based on insertion of new wall material at cell division sites and that this localized growth is dependent on cell division. Under some conditions the MreC and MreD proteins localize in a helical configuration. This localization pattern resembles that of the helical cables of Mbl protein. These results suggest that MreC and MreD act in a morphogenic pathway that couples the helical cytosolic Mbl cables to the extracellular cell wall synthetic machinery, which is critical for cylindrical elongation of the rod-shaped cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics
  • Bacillus subtilis / growth & development*
  • Bacillus subtilis / ultrastructure
  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / genetics
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Magnesium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Membrane Proteins / analysis
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Mutation


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • MreC protein, Bacteria
  • mbl protein, Bacillus subtilis
  • Magnesium Chloride