MreB, a major component of the recently discovered bacterial cytoskeleton, displays a structure homologous to its eukaryotic counterpart actin. Here, we study the assembly and mechanical properties of Thermotoga maritima MreB in the presence of different nucleotides in vitro. We found that GTP, not ADP or GDP, can mediate MreB assembly into filamentous structures as effectively as ATP. Upon MreB assembly, both GTP and ATP release the gamma phosphate at similar rates. Therefore, MreB is an equally effective ATPase and GTPase. Electron microscopy and quantitative rheology suggest that the morphologies and micromechanical properties of filamentous ATP-MreB and GTP-MreB are similar. In contrast, mammalian actin assembly is favored in the presence of ATP over GTP. These results indicate that, despite high structural homology of their monomers, T. maritima MreB and actin filaments display different assembly, morphology, micromechanics, and nucleotide-binding specificity. Furthermore, the biophysical properties of T. maritima MreB filaments, including high rigidity and propensity to form bundles, suggest a mechanism by which MreB helical structure may be involved in imposing a cylindrical architecture on rod-shaped bacterial cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology