The actin homologue MreB organizes the bacterial cell membrane

Henrik Strahl*, Frank Bürmann, Leendert W. Hamoen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The eukaryotic cortical actin cytoskeleton creates specific lipid domains, including lipid rafts, which determine the distribution of many membrane proteins. Here we show that the bacterial actin homologue MreB displays a comparable activity. MreB forms membrane-associated filaments that coordinate bacterial cell wall synthesis. We noticed that the MreB cytoskeleton influences fluorescent staining of the cytoplasmic membrane. Detailed analyses combining an array of mutants, using specific lipid staining techniques and spectroscopic methods, revealed that MreB filaments create specific membrane regions with increased fluidity (RIFs). Interference with these fluid lipid domains (RIFs) perturbs overall lipid homeostasis and affects membrane protein localization. The influence of MreB on membrane organization and fluidity may explain why the active movement of MreB stimulates membrane protein diffusion. These novel MreB activities add additional complexity to bacterial cell membrane organization and have implications for many membrane-associated processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3442
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


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