Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32077853
Link to DOI – 10.7554/eLife.50629e50629
Elife 2020 Feb; 9():
Bacterial shape is physically determined by the peptidoglycan cell wall. The cell-wall-synthesis machinery responsible for rod shape in Escherichia coli is the processive ‘Rod complex’. Previously, cytoplasmic MreB filaments were thought to govern formation and localization of Rod complexes based on local cell-envelope curvature. Using single-particle tracking of the transpeptidase and Rod-complex component PBP2, we found that PBP2 binds to a substrate different from MreB. Depletion and localization experiments of other putative Rod-complex components provide evidence that none of those provide the sole rate-limiting substrate for PBP2 binding. Consistently, we found only weak correlations between MreB and envelope curvature in the cylindrical part of cells. Residual correlations do not require curvature-based Rod-complex initiation but can be attributed to persistent rotational motion. We therefore speculate that the local cell-wall architecture provides the cue for Rod-complex initiation, either through direct binding by PBP2 or through an unknown intermediate.