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EMBO Rep. 2019 Jan;20(1). pii: e45946. doi: 10.15252/embr.201845946. Epub 2018 Dec 6.

Bacterial FtsZ protein forms phase-separated condensates with its nucleoid-associated inhibitor SlmA.

Author information

1
Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain monterroso@cib.csic.es silvia@cib.csic.es grivas@cib.csic.es.
2
Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain.
3
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, McGovern Medical School, University of Texas, Houston, TX, USA.
4
Department of Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.

Abstract

Macromolecular condensation resulting from biologically regulated liquid-liquid phase separation is emerging as a mechanism to organize intracellular space in eukaryotes, with broad implications for cell physiology and pathology. Despite their small size, bacterial cells are also organized by proteins such as FtsZ, a tubulin homolog that assembles into a ring structure precisely at the cell midpoint and is required for cytokinesis. Here, we demonstrate that FtsZ can form crowding-induced condensates, reminiscent of those observed for eukaryotic proteins. Formation of these FtsZ-rich droplets occurs when FtsZ is bound to SlmA, a spatial regulator of FtsZ that antagonizes polymerization, while also binding to specific sites on chromosomal DNA. The resulting condensates are dynamic, allowing FtsZ to undergo GTP-driven assembly to form protein fibers. They are sensitive to compartmentalization and to the presence of a membrane boundary in cell mimetic systems. This is a novel example of a bacterial nucleoprotein complex exhibiting condensation into liquid droplets, suggesting that phase separation may also play a functional role in the spatiotemporal organization of essential bacterial processes.

KEYWORDS:

bacterial division; biomolecular condensation; droplet microfluidics; macromolecular crowding; phase separation

PMID:
30523075
PMCID:
PMC6322363
[Available on 2020-01-01]
DOI:
10.15252/embr.201845946

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