Cytoskeletal Proteins in Caulobacter crescentus: Spatial Orchestrators of Cell Cycle Progression, Development, and Cell Shape

Subcell Biochem. 2017;84:103-137. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-53047-5_4.


Caulobacter crescentus, an aquatic Gram-negative α-proteobacterium, is dimorphic, as a result of asymmetric cell divisions that give rise to a free-swimming swarmer daughter cell and a stationary stalked daughter. Cell polarity of vibrioid C. crescentus cells is marked by the presence of a stalk at one end in the stationary form and a polar flagellum in the motile form. Progression through the cell cycle and execution of the associated morphogenetic events are tightly controlled through regulation of the abundance and activity of key proteins. In synergy with the regulation of protein abundance or activity, cytoskeletal elements are key contributors to cell cycle progression through spatial regulation of developmental processes. These include: polarity establishment and maintenance, DNA segregation, cytokinesis, and cell elongation. Cytoskeletal proteins in C. crescentus are additionally required to maintain its rod shape, curvature, and pole morphology. In this chapter, we explore the mechanisms through which cytoskeletal proteins in C. crescentus orchestrate developmental processes by acting as scaffolds for protein recruitment, generating force, and/or restricting or directing the motion of molecular machines. We discuss each cytoskeletal element in turn, beginning with those important for organization of molecules at the cell poles and chromosome segregation, then cytokinesis, and finally cell shape.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Caulobacter crescentus / cytology*
  • Caulobacter crescentus / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Cell Shape*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins