The bacterial Sec system is required for the organization and function of the MreB cytoskeleton

Sutharsan Govindarajan*, Orna Amster-Choder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Sec system is responsible for protein insertion, translocation and secretion across membranes in all cells. The bacterial actin homolog MreB controls various processes, including cell wall synthesis, membrane organization and polarity establishment. Here we show that the two systems genetically interact and that components of the Sec system, especially the SecA motor protein, are essential for spatiotemporal organization of MreB in E. coli, as evidenced by the accumulation of MreB at irregular sites in Sec-impaired cells. MreB mislocalization in SecA-defective cells significantly affects MreB-coordinated processes, such as cell wall synthesis, and induce formation of membrane invaginations enriched in high fluidity domains. Additionally, MreB is not recruited to the FtsZ ring in secA mutant cells, contributing to division arrest and cell filamentation. Our results show that all these faults are due to improper targeting of MreB to the membrane in the absence of SecA. Thus, when we reroute RodZ, MreB membrane-anchor, by fusing it to a SecA-independent integral membrane protein and overproducing it, MreB localization is restored and the defect in cell division is corrected. Notably, the RodZ moiety is not properly inserted into the membrane, strongly suggesting that it only serves as a bait for placing MreB around the cell circumference. Finally, we show that MreB localization depends on SecA also in C. crescentus, suggesting that regulation of MreB by the Sec system is conserved in bacteria. Taken together, our data reveal that the secretion system plays an important role in determining the organization and functioning of the cytoskeletal system in bacteria.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere1007017
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Govindarajan, Amster-Choder.


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