A unique cell division machinery in the Archaea

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 2;105(48):18942-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0809467105. Epub 2008 Nov 5.


In contrast to the cell division machineries of bacteria, euryarchaea, and eukaryotes, no division components have been identified in the second main archaeal phylum, Crenarchaeota. Here, we demonstrate that a three-gene operon, cdv, in the crenarchaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, forms part of a unique cell division machinery. The operon is induced at the onset of genome segregation and division, and the Cdv proteins then polymerize between segregating nucleoids and persist throughout cell division, forming a successively smaller structure during constriction. The cdv operon is dramatically down-regulated after UV irradiation, indicating division inhibition in response to DNA damage, reminiscent of eukaryotic checkpoint systems. The cdv genes exhibit a complementary phylogenetic range relative to FtsZ-based archaeal division systems such that, in most archaeal lineages, either one or the other system is present. Two of the Cdv proteins, CdvB and CdvC, display homology to components of the eukaryotic ESCRT-III sorting complex involved in budding of luminal vesicles and HIV-1 virion release, suggesting mechanistic similarities and a common evolutionary origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Archaea / classification
  • Archaea / cytology*
  • Archaea / genetics
  • Archaea / physiology*
  • Archaeal Proteins* / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins* / metabolism
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Operon*
  • Sulfolobus acidocaldarius / cytology
  • Sulfolobus acidocaldarius / drug effects
  • Sulfolobus acidocaldarius / physiology
  • Tunicamycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Tunicamycin