FtsA Regulates Z-Ring Morphology and Cell Wall Metabolism in an FtsZ C-Terminal Linker-Dependent Manner in Caulobacter crescentus

J Bacteriol. 2020 Mar 11;202(7):e00693-19. doi: 10.1128/JB.00693-19. Print 2020 Mar 11.


Bacterial cell division requires the assembly of a multiprotein division machinery, or divisome, that remodels the cell envelope to cause constriction. The cytoskeletal protein FtsZ forms a ringlike scaffold for the divisome at the incipient division site. FtsZ has three major regions: a conserved GTPase domain that polymerizes into protofilaments on binding GTP, a C-terminal conserved peptide (CTC) required for binding membrane-anchoring proteins, and a C-terminal linker (CTL) region of varied length and low sequence conservation. Recently, we demonstrated that the CTL regulates FtsZ polymerization properties in vitro and Z-ring structure and cell wall metabolism in vivo In Caulobacter crescentus, an FtsZ variant lacking the CTL (designated ΔCTL) can recruit all known divisome members and drive local cell wall synthesis but has dominant lethal effects on cell wall metabolism. To understand the underlying mechanism of the CTL-dependent regulation of cell wall metabolism, we expressed chimeras of FtsZ domains from C. crescentus and Escherichia coli and observed that the E. coli GTPase domain fused to the C. crescentus CTC phenocopies C. crescentus ΔCTL. By investigating the contributions of FtsZ-binding partners, we identified variants of FtsA, a known membrane anchor for FtsZ, that delay or exacerbate the ΔCTL phenotype. Additionally, we observed that the ΔCTL protein forms extended helical structures in vivo upon FtsA overproduction. We propose that misregulation downstream of defective ΔCTL assembly is propagated through the interaction between the CTC and FtsA. Overall, our study provides mechanistic insights into the CTL-dependent regulation of cell wall enzymes downstream of FtsZ polymerization.IMPORTANCE Bacterial cell division is essential and requires the recruitment and regulation of a complex network of proteins needed to initiate and guide constriction and cytokinesis. FtsZ serves as a master regulator for this process, and its function is highly dependent on both its assembly into the canonical Z ring and interactions with protein binding partners, all of which results in the activation of enzymes that remodel the cell wall to drive constriction. Using mutants of FtsZ, we have elaborated on the role of its C-terminal linker domain in regulating Z-ring stability and dynamics, as well as the requirement for its conserved C-terminal domain and interaction with the membrane-anchoring protein FtsA for regulating the process of cell wall remodeling for constriction.

Keywords: Caulobacter crescentus; FtsA; FtsZ; cell division; cell wall; peptidoglycan.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Caulobacter crescentus / cytology
  • Caulobacter crescentus / physiology*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / chemistry
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Peptidoglycan / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • FtsA protein, Bacteria
  • FtsZ protein, Bacteria
  • Peptidoglycan