A set of ftsZ mutants blocked at different stages of cell division in Caulobacter



FtsZ is required throughout the cell division process in eubacteria and in archaea. We report the isolation of novel mutants of the FtsZ gene in Caulobacter crescentus. Clusters of charged amino acids were changed to alanine to minimize mutations that affect protein folding. Molecular modelling indicated that all the clustered-charged-to-alanine mutations had altered amino acids at the surface of the protein. Of 13 such mutants, four were recessive-lethal, three were dominant-lethal, and six had no discernible phenotype. An FtsZ depletion strain of Caulobacter was constructed to analyse the phenotype of the recessive-lethal mutations and used to show that they blocked cell division at distinct stages. One mutation blocked the initiation of cell division, two mutations blocked cell division randomly, and one mutation blocked both early and late stages of cell division. The effect of the recessive mutations on the subcellular localization of FtsZ was determined. Models to explain the various mutant phenotypes are discussed. This is the first set of recessive alleles of ftsZ blocked at different stages of cell division.