FtsZ ring stability: of bundles, tubules, crosslinks, and curves

J Bacteriol. 2013 May;195(9):1859-68. doi: 10.1128/JB.02157-12. Epub 2013 Mar 1.


The first step in bacterial cytokinesis is the assembly of a stable but dynamic cytokinetic ring made up of the essential tubulin homolog FtsZ at the future site of division. Although FtsZ and its role in cytokinesis have been studied extensively, the precise architecture of the in vivo medial FtsZ ring (Z ring) is not well understood. Recent advances in superresolution imaging suggest that the Z ring comprises short, discontinuous, and loosely bundled FtsZ polymers, some of which are tethered to the membrane. A diverse array of regulatory proteins modulate the assembly, stability, and disassembly of the Z ring via direct interactions with FtsZ. Negative regulators of FtsZ play a critical role in ensuring the accurate positioning of FtsZ at the future site of division and in maintaining Z ring dynamics by controlling FtsZ polymer assembly/disassembly processes. Positive regulators of FtsZ are essential for tethering FtsZ polymers to the membrane and promoting the formation of stabilizing lateral interactions, permitting assembly of a mature Z ring. The past decade has seen the identification of several factors that promote FtsZ assembly, presumably through a variety of distinct molecular mechanisms. While a few of these proteins are broadly conserved, many positive regulators of FtsZ assembly are limited to small groups of closely related organisms, suggesting that FtsZ assembly is differentially modulated across bacterial species. In this review, we focus on the roles of positive regulators in Z ring assembly and in maintaining the integrity of the cytokinetic ring during the early stages of division.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / chemistry
  • Bacteria / cytology*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Division
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / chemistry*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Protein Stability


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • FtsZ protein, Bacteria