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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Feb;39(4):949-59.

Cell cycle and positional constraints on FtsZ localization and the initiation of cell division in Caulobacter crescentus.

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Department of Biology, Jordan Hall 142, Indiana University, 1001 E. 3rd St., Bloomington, IN 47405-3700, USA.


Swarmer cells of Caulobacter crescentus are devoid of the cell division initiation protein FtsZ and do not replicate DNA. FtsZ is synthesized during the differentiation of swarmer cells into replicating stalked cells. We show that FtsZ first localizes at the incipient stalked pole in differentiating swarmer cells. FtsZ subsequently localizes at the mid-cell early in the cell cycle. In an effort to understand whether Z-ring formation and cell constriction are driven solely by the cell cycle-regulated increase in FtsZ concentration, FtsZ was artificially expressed in swarmer cells at a level equivalent to that found in predivisional cells. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed that, in these swarmer cells, simply increasing FtsZ concentration was not sufficient for Z-ring formation; Z-ring formation took place only in stalked cells. Expression of FtsZ in swarmer cells did not alter the timing of cell constriction initiation during the cell cycle but, instead, caused additional constrictions and a delay in cell separation. These additional constrictions were confined to sites close to the original mid-cell constriction. These results suggest that the timing and placement of Z-rings is tightly coupled to an early cell cycle event and that cell constriction is not solely dependent on a threshold level of FtsZ.

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