FtsZ is an essential cell division protein conserved throughout the bacteria and archaea. In response to an unknown cell cycle signal, FtsZ polymerizes into a ring that establishes the future division site. We conducted a series of experiments examining the link between growth rate, medial FtsZ ring formation, and the intracellular concentration of FtsZ in the gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. We found that, although the frequency of cells with FtsZ rings varies as much as threefold in a growth rate-dependent manner, the average intracellular concentration of FtsZ remains constant irrespective of doubling time. Additionally, expressing fisZ solely from a constitutive promoter, thereby eliminating normal transcriptional control, did not alter the growth rate regulation of medial FtsZ ring formation. Finally, our data indicate that overexpressing FtsZ does not dramatically increase the frequency of cells with medial FtsZ rings, suggesting that the mechanisms governing ring formation are refractile to increases in FtsZ concentration. These results support a model in which the timing of FtsZ assembly is governed primarily through cell cycle-dependent changes in FtsZ polymerization kinetics and not simply via oscillations in the intracellular concentration of FtsZ. Importantly, this model can be extended to the gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli. Our data show that, like those in B. subtilis, average FtsZ levels in E. coli are constant irrespective of doubling time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2826-2834
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2003


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