Direct membrane binding by bacterial actin MreB.
Salje J., van den Ent F., de Boer P., Löwe J.
Bacterial actin MreB is one of the key components of the bacterial cytoskeleton. It assembles into short filaments that lie just underneath the membrane and organize the cell wall synthesis machinery. Here we show that MreB from both T. maritima and E. coli binds directly to cell membranes. This function is essential for cell shape determination in E. coli and is proposed to be a general property of many, if not all, MreBs. We demonstrate that membrane binding is mediated by a membrane insertion loop in TmMreB and by an N-terminal amphipathic helix in EcMreB and show that purified TmMreB assembles into double filaments on a membrane surface that can induce curvature. This, the first example of a membrane-binding actin filament, prompts a fundamental rethink of the structure and dynamics of MreB filaments within cells.