Establishing rod shape from spherical, peptidoglycan-deficient bacterial spores. Academic Article uri icon


  • Chemical-induced spores of the Gram-negative bacterium Myxococcus xanthus are peptidoglycan (PG)-deficient. It is unclear how these spherical spores germinate into rod-shaped, walled cells without preexisting PG templates. We found that germinating spores first synthesize PG randomly on spherical surfaces. MglB, a GTPase-activating protein, forms a cluster that responds to the status of PG growth and stabilizes at one future cell pole. Following MglB, the Ras family GTPase MglA localizes to the second pole. MglA directs molecular motors to transport the bacterial actin homolog MreB and the Rod PG synthesis complexes away from poles. The Rod system establishes rod shape de novo by elongating PG at nonpolar regions. Thus, similar to eukaryotic cells, the interactions between GTPase, cytoskeletons, and molecular motors initiate spontaneous polarization in bacteria.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

altmetric score

  • 12.55

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, H., Mulholland, G. A., Seef, S., Zhu, S., Liu, J., Mignot, T., & Nan, B.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Huan||Mulholland, Garrett A||Seef, Sofiene||Zhu, Shiwei||Liu, Jun||Mignot, Tâm||Nan, Beiyan

publication date

  • June 2020