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Mol Microbiol. 1997 Jun;24(6):1263-73.

ftsW is an essential cell-division gene in Escherichia coli.

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Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK.


In the absence of exogenous promoters, plasmid-mediated complementation of the temperature-sensitive ftsW201 allele requires the presence of the full coding sequence of ftsW plus upstream DNA encompassing the C-terminus of mraY and the full coding sequence of murD. We used molecular and genetic techniques to introduce an insertional inactivation into the chromosomal copy of ftsW, in the presence of the plasmid-borne wild-type ftsW gene under the control of P(BAD). In the absence of arabinose, the ftsW-null strain is not viable, and a shift from arabinose- to glucose-containing liquid medium resulted in a block in division, followed by cell lysis. Immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that in ftsW-null filaments, the FtsZ ring is absent in 50-60% of filaments, whilst between one and three Z-rings per filament can be detected in the remainder of the population, with the majority of these containing only one Z-ring per filament. We also demonstrated that the expression of only ftsWS (the smaller of two ftsW open reading frames) from P(BAD) is sufficient for complementation of the ftsW-null allele. We conclude that FtsW is an essential cell-division protein in Escherichia coli, and that it plays a role in the stabilization of the FtsZ ring during cell division.

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