Bacterial cell division: Regulating Z-ring formation

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Journal Article
Molecular Microbiology, 2001, 40 (4), pp. 795 - 803
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The earliest stage of cell division in bacteria is the formation of a Z ring, composed of a polymer of the FtsZ protein, at the division site. Z rings appear to be synthesized in a bi-directional manner from a nucleation site (NS) located on the inside of the cytoplasmic membrane. It is the utilization of a NS specifically at the site of septum formation that determines where and when division will occur. However, a Z ring can be made to form at positions other than at the division site. How does a cell regulate utilization of a NS at the correct location and at the right time? In rod-shaped bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, two factors involved in this regulation are the Min system and nucleoid occlusion. It is suggested that in B. subtilis, the main role of the Min proteins is to inhibit division at the nucleoid-free cell poles. In E. coli it is currently not clear whether the Min system can direct a Z ring to the division site at mid-cell or whether its main role is to ensure that division inhibition occurs away from mid-cell, a role analogous to that in B. subtilis. While the nucleoid negatively influences Z-ring formation in its vicinity in these rod-shaped organisms, the exact relationship between nucleoid occlusion and the ability to form a mid-cell Z ring is unresolved. Recent evidence suggests that in B. subtilis and Caulobacter crescentus, utilization of the NS at the division site is intimately linked to the progress of a round of chromosome replication and this may form the basis of achieving co-ordination between chromosome replication and cell division.
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