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EMBO J. 2009 Nov 18;28(22):3476-84. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.277. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Curved FtsZ protofilaments generate bending forces on liposome membranes.

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Department of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.


We have created FtsZ-YFP-mts where an amphipathic helix on the C-terminus tethers FtsZ to the membrane. When incorporated inside multi-lamellar tubular liposomes, FtsZ-YFP-mts can assemble Z rings that generate a constriction force. When added to the outside of liposomes, FtsZ-YFP-mts bound and produced concave depressions, bending the membrane in the same direction as the Z ring inside liposomes. Prominent membrane tubules were then extruded at the intersections of concave depressions. We tested the effect of moving the membrane-targeting sequence (mts) from the C-terminus to the N-terminus, which is approximately 180 degrees from the C-terminal tether. When mts-FtsZ-YFP was applied to the outside of liposomes, it generated convex bulges, bending the membrane in the direction opposite to the concave depressions. We conclude that FtsZ protofilaments have a fixed direction of curvature, and the direction of membrane bending depends on which side of the bent protofilament the mts is attached to. This supports models in which the FtsZ constriction force is generated by protofilament bending.

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