Bactofilins: a new and versatile class of cytoskeletal proteins in bacteria
In recent years, it has become evident that bacteria contain various cytoskeletal proteins that are critical for their fitness and survival. These include homologs of actin, tubulin and intermediate filament proteins as well as bacteria-specific factors, such as the bactofilins.
Bactofilins are an atypical group of cytoskeletal proteins that share structural simililarity with prion proteins and assemble into stable polymeric structures without the need for nucleotide cofactors. They are almost ubiquitous among bacteria and often present in multiple paralogous copies per species, suggesting that they have critical cellular functions. However, their biological roles and polymerization behavior remain poorly understood.
This talk will highlight recent structural and functional studies on the physiological roles of bactofilin polymers in selected bacterial model organisms. The results obtained show that bactofilins serve as multi-purpose cytoskeletal scaffolds that recruit interacting proteins to the (sub)polar regions of the cell, thereby controlling a range of different pathways. This functional divergence underscores the diversity of mechanisms that control the spatiotemporal organization of bacteria.