Many proteins that form cytoskeletal structures in eukaryotes such as actin, tubulin and intermediary filaments have homologues in bacteria. Furthermore, proteins involved in membrane dynamics such as membrane domain organization, as well as membrane fission and fusion have been identified in bacteria. Our lab contributes to this field by analyzing the molecular function of bacterial dynamins and flotillins. These proteins are involved in bacterial membrane dynamics and membrane organization. Other projects are focusing on bacterial cytokinesis, cell growth and chromosome organization. Rod-shaped bacteria often divide with extreme precision at the geometric center of the cell. This precise placement of the cytokinetic apparatus is mediated by negative regulation. In Bacillus subtilis two negative regulatory systems have been described, the Min system and the nucleoid occlusion system. While the latter protects the segregating chromosomes from being split during division, the Min system ensures that cytokinesis occurs only once per cell cycle and prevents reassembly of the cytokinetic machinery after successful cell division. In contrast, cells of Corynebacterim glutamicum lack these two regulatory systems and have evolved different strategies to ensure faithful distribution of genetic material and correct placement of the division proteins. Here, chromosome segregation and replication initiation are closely linked to cell growth and elongation. Analysis of these fundamental processes in C. glutamicum will help to understand the cell biology in various related pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Corynebacterium diphtheriae.
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