In most bacteria, cell division relies on the functions of an essential protein, FtsZ. FtsZ polymerizes at the future division site to form a ring-like structure, termed the Z-ring, that serves as a scaffold to recruit all other division proteins, and possibly generates force to constrict the cell. The scaffolding function of the Z-ring is well established, but the force generating function has recently been called into question. Additionally, new findings have demonstrated that the Z-ring is more directly linked to cell wall metabolism than simply recruiting enzymes to the division site. Here we review these advances and suggest that rather than generating a rate-limiting constrictive force, the Z-ring's function may be redefined as an orchestrator of septum synthesis.
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