Regeneration of Escherichia coli Giant Protoplasts to Their Original Form

Life (Basel). 2019 Mar 1;9(1):24. doi: 10.3390/life9010024.


The spheroplasts and protoplasts of cell wall-deficient (CWD) bacteria are able to revert to their original cellular morphologies through the regeneration of their cell walls. However, whether this is true for giant protoplasts (GPs), which can be as large as 10 μm in diameter, is unknown. GPs can be prepared from various bacteria, including Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, and also from fungi, through culture in the presence of inhibitors for cell wall synthesis or mitosis. In this report, we prepared GPs from E. coli and showed that they can return to rod-shaped bacterium, and that they are capable of colony formation. Microscopic investigation revealed that the regeneration process took place through a variety of morphological pathways. We also report the relationship between GP division and GP volume. Finally, we show that FtsZ is crucial for GP division. These results indicate that E. coli is a highly robust organism that can regenerate its original form from an irregular state, such as GP.

Keywords: Escherichia coli; cell wall-deficient bacteria; giant protoplast; proliferation.