Bacterial Cell Division and the Z Ring

Annu Rev Biochem. 1997;66:93-116. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.66.1.93.


Bacterial cell division occurs through the formation of an FtsZ ring (Z ring) at the site of division. The ring is composed of the tubulin-like FtsZ protein that has GTPase activity and the ability to polymerize in vitro. The Z ring is thought to function in vivo as a cytoskeletal element that is analogous to the contractile ring in many eukaryotic cells. Evidence suggests that the Z ring is utilized by all prokaryotic organisms for division and may also be used by some eukaryotic organelles. This review summarizes our present knowledge about the formation, function, and evolution of the Z ring in prokaryotic cell division.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Division
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Prokaryotic Cells / physiology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • FtsZ protein, Bacteria
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins