1. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
  2. Physics of Living Systems
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Mechanics and dynamics of translocating MreB filaments on curved membranes

  1. Felix Wong
  2. Ethan C Garner
  3. Ariel Amir  Is a corresponding author
  1. Harvard University, United States
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e40472 doi: 10.7554/eLife.40472


MreB is an actin homolog that is essential for coordinating the cell wall synthesis required for the rod shape of many bacteria. Previously we have shown that filaments of MreB bind to the curved membranes of bacteria and translocate in directions determined by principal membrane curvatures to create and reinforce the rod shape (Hussain et al., 2018). Here, in order to understand how MreB filament dynamics affects their cellular distribution, we model how MreB filaments bind and translocate on membranes with different geometries. We find that it is both energetically favorable and robust for filaments to bind and orient along directions of largest membrane curvature. Furthermore, significant localization to different membrane regions results from processive MreB motion in various geometries. These results demonstrate that the in vivo localization of MreB observed in many different experiments, including those examining negative Gaussian curvature, can arise from translocation dynamics alone.

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All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.

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Author details

  1. Felix Wong

    School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2309-8835
  2. Ethan C Garner

    Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0141-3555
  3. Ariel Amir

    School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2611-0139


National Science Foundation (DGE1144152)

  • Felix Wong

National Institutes of Health (DP2AI117923-01)

  • Ethan C Garner

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Tâm Mignot, Aix Marseille University-CNRS UMR7283, France

Publication history

  1. Received: August 2, 2018
  2. Accepted: February 15, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 18, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: May 7, 2019 (version 2)


© 2019, Wong 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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