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Cell. 2002 Apr 19;109(2):257-66.

Asymmetric cell division in B. subtilis involves a spiral-like intermediate of the cytokinetic protein FtsZ.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


A fundamental feature of development in the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus subtilis is the switch from medial to asymmetric division. The switch is brought about by a change in the location of the cytokinetic Z ring, which is composed of the tubulin-like protein FtsZ, from the cell middle to the poles during sporulation. We report that the medial Z ring is replaced by a spiral-like filament of FtsZ that grows along the long axis of the cell. We propose that the filament mediates the switch by redeploying FtsZ to the poles. Spiral formation and the switch to polar Z rings are largely caused by a sporulation-specific increase in transcription of the gene for FtsZ and activation of the gene for the FtsZ-associated protein SpoIIE.

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