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Stress-induced formation of cell wall-deficient cells in filamentous actinomycetes

: Ramijan, Karina; Ultee, Eveline; Willemse, Joost; Zhang, Zheren; Wondergem, Joeri A.J.; Meij, Anne van der; Heinrich, Doris; Briegel, Ariane; Wezel, Gilles P. van; Claessen, Dennis

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Nature Communications 9 (2018), Art. 5164, 13 pp.
ISSN: 2041-1723
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer ISC ()
Zellen; Actinobacteria

The cell wall is a shape-defining structure that envelopes almost all bacteria and protects them from environmental stresses. Bacteria can be forced to grow without a cell wall under certain conditions that interfere with cell wall synthesis, but the relevance of these wall-less cells (known as L-forms) is unclear. Here, we show that several species of filamentous actinomycetes have a natural ability to generate wall-deficient cells in response to hyperosmotic stress, which we call S-cells. This wall-deficient state is transient, as S-cells are able to switch to the normal mycelial mode of growth. However, prolonged exposure of S-cells to hyperosmotic stress yields variants that are able to proliferate indefinitely without their cell wall, similarly to L-forms. We propose that formation of wall-deficient cells in actinomycetes may serve as an adaptation to osmotic stress.