FtsZ does not initiate membrane constriction at the onset of division.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Scientific reports, 2016, 6, (1), pp. 33138
Issue Date:
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The source of constriction required for division of a bacterial cell remains enigmatic. FtsZ is widely believed to be a key player, because in vitro experiments indicate that it can deform liposomes when membrane tethered. However in vivo evidence for such a role has remained elusive as it has been challenging to distinguish the contribution of FtsZ from that of peptidoglycan-ingrowth. To differentiate between these two possibilities we studied the early stages of division in Escherichia coli, when FtsZ is present at the division site but peptidoglycan synthesizing enzymes such as FtsI and FtsN are not. Our approach was to use correlative cryo-fluorescence and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-CLEM) to monitor the localization of fluorescently labeled FtsZ, FtsI or FtsN correlated with the septal ultra-structural geometry in the same cell. We noted that the presence of FtsZ at the division septum is not sufficient to deform membranes. This observation suggests that, although FtsZ can provide a constrictive force, the force is not substantial at the onset of division. Conversely, the presence of FtsN always correlated with membrane invagination, indicating that allosteric activation of peptidoglycan ingrowth is the trigger for constriction of the cell envelope during cell division in E. coli.
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