1. Cell Biology
  2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
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General principles for the formation and proliferation of a wall-free (L-form) state in bacteria

  1. Romain Mercier
  2. Yoshikazu Kawai
  3. Jeff Errington  Is a corresponding author
  1. Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Research Article
  • Cited 53
  • Views 5,466
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Cite this article as: eLife 2014;3:e04629 doi: 10.7554/eLife.04629

Abstract

The peptidoglycan cell wall is a defining structural feature of the bacterial-kingdom. Curiously, some bacteria have the ability to switch to a wall-free or 'L-form' state. Although known for decades, the general properties of L-forms are poorly understood, largely due to the lack of their systematic analysis in the molecular biology era. Here we show that inhibition of the peptidoglycan precursor synthesis promotes the generation of L-forms from both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. We show that L-forms generated have in common a mechanism of proliferation involving membrane blebbing and tubulation, which is dependant on an altered rate of membrane synthesis. Crucially, this mode of proliferation is independent of the essential FtsZ-based division machinery. Our results suggest that the L-form mode of proliferation is conserved across the bacterial-kingdom, reinforcing the idea that it could have been used in primitive cells, and opening up its use in the generation of synthetic cells.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Romain Mercier

    Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Yoshikazu Kawai

    Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Jeff Errington

    Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    jeff.errington@newcastle.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Roberto Kolter, Harvard Medical School, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: September 5, 2014
  2. Accepted: October 28, 2014
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 30, 2014 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: November 26, 2014 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2014, Mercier et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. Further reading

Further reading

  1. Some bacteria can survive and thrive despite not having a cell wall.

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