The effect of antibiotics on protein diffusion in the Escherichia coli cytoplasmic membrane

George S. Liu, Benjamin P. Bratton, Zemer Gitai, Joshua W. Shaevitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accumulating evidence suggests that molecular motors contribute to the apparent diffusion of molecules in cells. However, current literature lacks evidence for an active process that drives diffusive-like motion in the bacterial membrane. One possible mechanism is cell wall synthesis, which involves the movement of protein complexes in the cell membrane circum-ferentially around the cell envelope and may generate currents in the lipid bilayer that advec-tively transport other transmembrane proteins. We test this hypothesis in Escherichia coli using drug treatments that slow cell wall synthesis and measure their effect on the diffusion of the transmembrane protein mannitol permease using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. We found no clear decrease in diffusion in response to vancomycin and no decrease in response to mecillinam treatment. These results suggest that cell wall synthesis is not an active contributor to mobility in the cytoplasmic membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0185810
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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