Morphological features and signature gene response elicited by inactivation of FtsI in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2009 Mar;63(3):451-7. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkn507. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


Objectives: Universally conserved events in cell division provide the opportunity for the development of novel chemotherapeutics against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The aim of this study was to use the beta-lactam antimicrobials cefalexin and piperacillin to inhibit FtsI and characterize the morphological changes and global transcriptional activities of genes to identify a signature response to FtsI inactivation.

Methods: Cefalexin and piperacillin were used to block cell division, and microscopy was used to evaluate the effects on bacterial morphology and ultrastructure. Global transcriptional analysis was performed to determine the impact of FtsI inhibition on cell cycle processes and to identify molecular markers.

Results: Inhibition of FtsI with cefalexin and piperacillin resulted in filamentous cells with multiple concentric rings and occasional branching as visualized by light and electron microscopy. Whole genome microarray-based transcriptional profiling and transcriptional mapping allowed the evaluation of cell cycle processes in response to inhibition of FtsI and characterization of transcriptional response and cell cycle processes.

Conclusions: This study substantiated that FtsZ-ring constriction and septal resolution require the transpeptidase activity of FtsI, making FtsI essential for cell division in M. tuberculosis. Therefore, FtsI is a target for drug discovery, and these studies provided a molecular signature of FtsI inactivation that can be applied to screening strategies for novel FtsI inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cephalexin / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Growth Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / cytology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / growth & development
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Piperacillin / pharmacology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Growth Inhibitors
  • Cephalexin
  • Piperacillin