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J Bacteriol. 2001 Nov;183(21):6253-64.

Gonococcal MinD affects cell division in Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Escherichia coli and exhibits a novel self-interaction.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada.


The Min proteins are involved in determining cell division sites in bacteria and have been studied extensively in rod-shaped bacteria. We have recently shown that the gram-negative coccus Neisseria gonorrhoeae contains a min operon, and the present study investigates the role of minD from this operon. A gonococcal minD insertional mutant, CJSD1, was constructed and exhibited both grossly abnormal cell division and morphology as well as altered cell viability. Western blot analysis verified the absence of MinD from N. gonorrhoeae (MinD(Ng)) in this mutant. Hence, MinD(Ng) is required for maintaining proper cell division and growth in N. gonorrhoeae. Immunoblotting of soluble and insoluble gonococcal cell fractions revealed that MinD(Ng) is both cytosolic and associated with the insoluble membrane fraction. The joint overexpression of MinC(Ng) and MinD(Ng) from a shuttle vector resulted in a significant enlargement of gonococcal cells, while cells transformed with plasmids encoding either MinC(Ng) or MinD(Ng) alone did not display noticeable morphological changes. These studies suggest that MinD(Ng) is involved in inhibiting gonococcal cell division, likely in conjunction with MinC(Ng). The alignment of MinD sequences from various bacteria showed that the proteins are highly conserved and share several regions of identity, including a conserved ATP-binding cassette. The overexpression of MinD(Ng) in wild-type Escherichia coli led to cell filamentation, while overexpression in an E. coli minD mutant restored a wild-type morphology to the majority of cells; therefore, gonococcal MinD is functional across species. Yeast two-hybrid studies and gel-filtration and sedimentation equilibrium analyses of purified His-tagged MinD(Ng) revealed a novel MinD(Ng) self-interaction. We have also shown by yeast two-hybrid analysis that MinD from E. coli interacts with itself and with MinD(Ng). These results indicate that MinD(Ng) is required for maintaining proper cell division and growth in N. gonorrhoeae and suggests that the self-interaction of MinD may be important for cell division site selection across species.

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