More than 5 decades of work support the idea that cell envelope synthesis, including the inward growth of cell division, is tightly coordinated with DNA replication and protein synthesis through central metabolism. Remarkably, no unifying model exists to account for how these fundamentally disparate processes are functionally coupled. Recent studies demonstrate that proteins involved in carbohydrate and nitrogen metabolism can moonlight as direct regulators of cell division, coordinate cell division and DNA replication, and even suppress defects in DNA replication. In this minireview, we focus on studies illustrating the intimate link between metabolism and regulation of peptidoglycan (PG) synthesis during growth and division, and we identify the following three recurring themes. (i) Nutrient availability, not growth rate, is the primary determinant of cell size. (ii) The degree of gluconeogenic flux is likely to have a profound impact on the metabolites available for cell envelope synthesis, so growth medium selection is a critical consideration when designing and interpreting experiments related to morphogenesis. (iii) Perturbations in pathways relying on commonly shared and limiting metabolites, like undecaprenyl phosphate (Und-P), can lead to pleotropic phenotypes in unrelated pathways.
Keywords: FtsZ; MreB; UDP-glucose; cell division; gluconeogenesis; metabolism; morphogenesis; peptidoglycan; phosphoenolpyruvate; undecaprenyl phosphate.
Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.