Molecular evolution of FtsZ protein sequences encoded within the genomes of archaea, bacteria, and eukaryota

J Mol Evol. 2004 Jan;58(1):19-29. doi: 10.1007/s00239-003-2523-5.


The FtsZ protein is a polymer-forming GTPase which drives bacterial cell division and is structurally and functionally related to eukaryotic tubulins. We have searched for FtsZ-related sequences in all freely accessible databases, then used strict criteria based on the tertiary structure of FtsZ and its well-characterized in vitro and in vivo properties to determine which sequences represent genuine homologues of FtsZ. We have identified 225 full-length FtsZ homologues, which we have used to document, phylum by phylum, the primary sequence characteristics of FtsZ homologues from the Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryota. We provide evidence for at least five independent ftsZ gene-duplication events in the bacterial kingdom and suggest the existence of three ancestoral euryarchaeal FtsZ paralogues. In addition, we identify "FtsZ-like" sequences from Bacteria and Archaea that, while showing significant sequence similarity to FtsZs, are unlikely to bind and hydrolyze GTP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Archaea / genetics*
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Fungi / genetics
  • Gene Duplication
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Plants / genetics
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology*
  • Tubulin / genetics*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • FtsZ protein, Bacteria
  • Tubulin