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Mol Microbiol. 2009 Nov;74(4):1004-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06914.x. Epub 2009 Oct 15.

Lateral FtsZ association and the assembly of the cytokinetic Z ring in bacteria.

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Institute for the Biotechnology of Infectious Diseases, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia.


Cell division in bacteria is facilitated by a polymeric ring structure, the Z ring, composed of tubulin-like FtsZ protofilaments. Recently it has been shown that in Bacillus subtilis, the Z ring forms through the cell cycle-mediated remodelling of a helical FtsZ polymer. To investigate how this occurs in vivo, we have exploited a unique temperature-sensitive strain of B. subtilis expressing the mutant protein FtsZ(Ts1). FtsZ(Ts1) is unable to complete Z ring assembly at 49 degrees C, becoming trapped at an intermediate stage in the helix-to-ring progression. To determine why this is the case, we used a combination of methods to identify the specific defect of the FtsZ(Ts1) protein in vivo. Our results indicate that while FtsZ(Ts1) is able to polymerize normally into protofilaments, it is defective in the ability to support lateral associations between these filaments at high temperatures. This strongly suggests that lateral FtsZ association plays a crucial role in the polymer transitions that lead to the formation of the Z ring in the cell. In addition, we show that the FtsZ-binding protein ZapA, when overproduced, can rescue the FtsZ(Ts1) defect in vivo. This suggests that ZapA functions to promote the helix-to-ring transition of FtsZ by stimulating lateral FtsZ association.

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