Integration of cell wall synthesis and chromosome segregation during cell division in Caulobacter

J Cell Biol. 2024 Feb 5;223(2):e202211026. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202211026. Epub 2023 Nov 28.


To divide, bacteria must synthesize their peptidoglycan (PG) cell wall, a protective meshwork that maintains cell shape. FtsZ, a tubulin homolog, dynamically assembles into a midcell band, recruiting division proteins, including the PG synthases FtsW and FtsI. FtsWI are activated to synthesize PG and drive constriction at the appropriate time and place. However, their activation pathway remains unresolved. In Caulobacter crescentus, FtsWI activity requires FzlA, an essential FtsZ-binding protein. Through time-lapse imaging and single-molecule tracking of Caulobacter FtsW and FzlA, we demonstrate that FzlA is a limiting constriction activation factor that signals to promote conversion of inactive FtsW to an active, slow-moving state. We find that FzlA interacts with the DNA translocase FtsK and place FtsK genetically in a pathway with FzlA and FtsWI. Misregulation of the FzlA-FtsK-FtsWI pathway leads to heightened DNA damage and cell death. We propose that FzlA integrates the FtsZ ring, chromosome segregation, and PG synthesis to ensure robust and timely constriction during Caulobacter division.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Caulobacter* / cytology
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Division* / genetics
  • Cell Wall*
  • Chromosome Segregation*
  • Peptidoglycan


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Peptidoglycan