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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Mar;1818(3):806-13. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2011.12.012. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

FtsZ polymers bound to lipid bilayers through ZipA form dynamic two dimensional networks.

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Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales Nicolás Cabrera, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


Bacteria divide by forming a contractile ring around their midcell region. FtsZ, a cytoskeletal soluble protein structurally related to tubulin, is the main component of this division machinery. It forms filaments that bundle at the inner side of the cytoplasmic membrane. These FtsZ bundles do not attach to bare lipid surfaces. In Escherichia coli they remain near the membrane surface by attaching to the membrane protein ZipA and FtsA. In order to study the structure and dynamics of the ZipA-FtsZ bundles formed on a lipid surface, we have oriented a soluble form of ZipA (sZipA), with its transmembrane domain substituted by a histidine tag, on supported lipid membranes. Atomic force microscopy has been used to visualize the polymers formed on top of this biomimetic surface. In the presence of GTP, when sZipA is present, FtsZ polymers restructure forming higher order structures. The lipid composition of the underlying membrane affects the aggregation kinetics and the shape of the structures formed. On the negatively charged E. coli lipid membranes, filaments condense from initially disperse material to form a network that is more dynamic and flexible than the one formed on phosphatidyl choline bilayers. These FtsZ-ZipA filament bundles are interconnected, retain their capacity to dynamically restructure, to fragment, to anneal and to condense laterally.

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