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THE PLASTID DIVISION MACHINE.

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1
Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824; e-mail: osteryou@msu.edu, smithr72@msu.edu

Abstract

Plastid division is essential for the maintenance of plastid populations in cells undergoing division and for the accumulation of large chloroplast numbers in photosynthetic tissues. Although the mechanisms mediating plastid division are poorly understood, ultrastructural studies imply this process is accomplished by a dynamic macromolecular machine organized into ring structures at the plastid midpoint. A key component of the engine that powers this machine is the motor-like protein FtsZ, a cytoskeletal GTPase of endosymbiotic origin that forms a ring at the plastid division site, similar to the function of its prokaryotic relatives in bacterial cytokinesis. This review considers the phylogenetic distribution and structural properties of two recently identified plant FtsZ protein families in the context of their distinct roles in plastid division and describes current evidence regarding factors that govern their placement at the division site. Because of their evolutionary and mechanistic relationship, the process of bacterial cell division provides a valuable, though incomplete, paradigm for understanding plastid division in plants.

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