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Genes Dev. 1996 Feb 15;10(4):478-88.

Transcription factor Spo0A switches the localization of the cell division protein FtsZ from a medial to a bipolar pattern in Bacillus subtilis.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA.


Entry into sporulation by the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis is governed by two transcription factors, Spo0A and sigma H, and involves a switch in the site of division from a medial to a polar location. We report that at the onset of sporulation, assembly of the cell division protein FtsZ shifts from midcell to potential division sites near both poles. The switch to a bipolar pattern of FtsZ localization is dependent on Spo0A. Additionally, synthesis of an activated form of Spo0A during growth artificially activates the switch in FtsZ localization and results in the formation of polar septa. The sigma H factor, on the other hand, is dispensable for the switch in the position of the FtsZ assembly site, although it is required for formation of the polar septum. Our results suggest that during the transition from growth to sporulation, Spo0A induces the expression of genes that suppress FtsZ assembly at the midcell site and activate sites at both poles, whereas sigma H induces genes required for a subsequent step in cytokinesis.

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