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Summary

An ftsZ thermonull mutant has been constructed in which the ftsZ gene has been deleted from the Escherichia coli chromosome while maintaining a wild-type copy of the gene in a thermosensitive plasmid. Under conditions in which the ftsZ+ allele is unable to be replicated at the same pace as the chromosome, the cells become non-viable and grow as filaments, indicating that, contrary to other reports, FtsZ performs a function essential for cell survival. Antibodies raised against FtsZ have been used to detect the cellular location of FtsZ and its contents per cell. Fractionation experiments indicate that most of the total FtsZ present in the cell stays in the cytoplasm.