Oligomeric structure of the Bacillus subtilis cell division protein DivIVA determined by transmission electron microscopy



DivIVA from Bacillus subtilis is a bifunctional protein with distinct roles in cell division and sporulation. During vegetative growth, DivIVA regulates the activity of the MinCD complex, thus helping to direct cell division to the correct mid-cell position. DivIVA fulfils a quite different role during sporulation in B. subtilis when it directs the oriC region of the chromosome to the cell pole before asymmetric cell division. DivIVA is a 19.5 kDa protein with a large part of its structure predicted to form a tropomyosin-like α-helical coiled-coil. Here, we present a model for the quaternary structure of DivIVA, based on cryonegative stain transmission electron microscopy images. The purified protein appears as an elongated particle with lateral expansions at both ends producing a form that resembles a ‘doggy-bone’. The particle mass estimated from these images agrees with the value of 145 kDa measured by analytical ultracentrifugation suggesting 6- to 8-mers. These DivIVA oligomers serve as building blocks in the formation of higher order assemblies giving rise to strings, wires and, finally, two-dimensional lattices in a time-dependent manner.