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J Biol Chem. 2010 Apr 9;285(15):11281-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.084079. Epub 2010 Feb 5.

Suprastructures and dynamic properties of Mycobacterium tuberculosis FtsZ.

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  • 1ERATO Actin Filament Dynamics Project, Japan Science and Technology Corporation, RIKEN Harima Institute at Spring 8, 1-1-1 Kouto, Sayo, Hyogo 679-5148, Japan.


Tuberculosis causes the most death in humans by any bacterium. Drug targeting of bacterial cytoskeletal proteins requires detailed knowledge of the various filamentous suprastructures and dynamic properties. Here, we have investigated by high resolution electron microscopy the assembly of cell division protein and microtubule homolog FtsZ from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MtbFtsZ) in vitro in the presence of various monovalent salts, crowding agents and polycations. Supramolecular structures, including two-dimensional rings, three-dimensional toroids, and multistranded helices formed in the presence of molecular crowding, were similar to those observed by fluorescence microscopy in bacteria in vivo. Dynamic properties of MtbFtsZ filaments were visualized by light scattering and real time total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. Interestingly, MtbFtsZ revealed a form of dynamic instability at steady state. Cation-induced condensation phenomena of bacterial cytomotive polymers have not been investigated in any detail, although it is known that many bacteria can contain high amounts of polycations, which may modulate the prokaryotic cytoskeleton. We find that above a threshold concentration of polycations which varied with the valence of the cation, ionic strength, and pH, MtbFtsZ mainly formed sheets. The general features of these cation-induced condensation phenomena could be explained in the framework of the Manning condensation theory. Chirality and packing defects limited the dimensions of sheets and toroids at steady state as predicted by theoretical models. In first approximation simple physical principles seem to govern the formation of MtbFtsZ suprastructures.

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