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Commun Integr Biol. 2009;2(2):86-8.

Cell division and the ESCRT complex: A surprise from the archaea.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Evolution; Evolutionary Biology Center; Uppsala University; Uppsala, Sweden.

Abstract

The Archaea constitute the third domain of life, a separate evolutionary lineage together with the Bacteria and the Eukarya.1 Species belonging to the Archaea contain a surprising mix of bacterial (metabolism, life style, genomic organization) and eukaryotic (replication, transcription, translation) features.2 The archaeal kingdom comprises two main phyla, the Crenarchaeota and the Euryarchaeota. Regarding the cell division process in archaeal species (reviewed in ref. 3), members of the Euryarchaeota rely on an FtsZ-based cell division mechanism4 whereas, previously, no division genes had been detected in the crenarchaea. However, we recently reported the discovery of the elusive cell division machinery in crenarchaea from the genus Sulfolobus.5 The minimal machinery consists of three genes, which we designated cdvA, B and C (for cell division), organized into an operon that is widely conserved among crenarchaea. The gene products polymerize between segregating nucleoids at the early mitotic stage, forming a complex that remains associated with the leading edge of constriction throughout cytokinesis. Interestingly, CdvB and CdvC were shown to be related to the eukaryotic ESCRT-III protein sorting machinery (reviewed in ref. 6), indicating shared common ancestry and mechanistic similarities to endosomal vesicle formation and viral (HIV) budding in eukaryotes. We also demonstrated that the cdv operon is subject to checkpoint-like regulation, and that the genes display a complementary phylogenetic distribution within the Archaea domain relative to FtsZ-dependent division systems.5 Here, the findings are further explored and discussed, and topics for further investigation are suggested.

KEYWORDS:

Archaea; ESCRT; HIV; Sulfolobus; cell cycle; cell division; cytokinesis; vesicle formation; virion release

PMID:
19704896
PMCID:
PMC2686351

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