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Date of Original Version



Cell & Molecular Biology


During bacterial cell division a dynamic protein structure called the Z-ring assembles at the septum. The major protein in the Z-ring in Escherichia coli is FtsZ, a tubulin homolog that polymerizes with GTP. FtsZ is degraded by the two-component ATP-dependent protease ClpXP. Two regions of FtsZ, located outside of the polymerization domain in the unstructured linker and at the C-terminus, are important for specific recognition and degradation by ClpXP. We engineered a synthetic substrate containing green fluorescent protein (Gfp) fused to an extended FtsZ C-terminal tail (residues 317–383), including the unstructured linker and the C-terminal conserved region, but not the polymerization domain, and showed that it is sufficient to target a non-native substrate for degradation in vitro. To determine if FtsZ degradation regulates Z-ring assembly during division, we expressed a full length Gfp-FtsZ fusion protein in wild type and clp deficient strains and monitored fluorescent Z-rings. In cells deleted for clpX or clpP, or cells expressing protease-defective mutant protein ClpP(S97A), Z-rings appear normal; however, after photobleaching a region of the Z-ring, fluorescence recovers ~70% more slowly in cells without functional ClpXP than in wild type cells. Gfp-FtsZ(R379E), which is defective for degradation by ClpXP, also assembles into Z-rings that recover fluorescence ~2-fold more slowly than Z-rings containing Gfp-FtsZ. In vitro, ClpXP cooperatively degrades and disassembles FtsZ polymers. These results demonstrate that ClpXP is a regulator of Z-ring dynamics and that the regulation is proteolysis-dependent. Our results further show that FtsZ-interacting proteins in E. coli fine-tune Z-ring dynamics.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.