Here, we measured the concentrations of several ions in cultivated Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, and analyzed their effects on polymer formation by the actin homologue MreB. We measured potassium, sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium ion concentrations in Leptospira interrogans, Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli. Intracellular ionic strength contributed from these ions varied within the 130–273 mM range. The intracellular sodium ion concentration range was between 122 and 296 mM and the potassium ion concentration range was 5 and 38 mM. However, the levels were significantly influenced by extracellular ion levels. L. interrogans, Rickettsia rickettsii and E. coli MreBs were heterologously expressed and purified from E. coli using a novel filtration method to prepare MreB polymers. The structures and stability of Alexa-488 labeled MreB polymers, under varying ionic strength conditions, were investigated by confocal microscopy and MreB polymerization rates were assessed by measuring light scattering. MreB polymerization was fastest in the presence of monovalent cations in the 200–300 mM range. MreB filaments showed high stability in this concentration range and formed large assemblies of tape-like bundles that transformed to extensive sheets at higher ionic strengths. Changing the calcium concentration from 0.2 to 0 mM and then to 2 mM initialized rapid remodelling of MreB polymers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas