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Summary

Cell division in bacteria is mediated by the septal ring, a collection of about a dozen (known) proteins that localize to the division site, where they direct assembly of the division septum. The foundation of the septal ring is a polymer of the tubulin-like protein FtsZ. Recently, experiments using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching have revealed that the Z ring is extremely dynamic. FtsZ subunits exchange in and out of the ring on a time scale of seconds even while the overall morphology of the ring appears static. These findings, together with in vitro studies of purified FtsZ, suggest that the rate-limiting step in turnover of FtsZ polymers is GTP hydrolysis. Another component of the septal ring, FtsK, is involved in coordinating chromosome segregation with cell division. Recent studies have revealed that FtsK is a DNA translocase that facilitates decatenation of sister chromosomes by TopIV and resolution of chromosome dimers by the XerCD recombinase. Finally, two murein hydrolases, AmiC and EnvC, have been shown to localize to the septal ring of Escherichia coli, where they play an important role in separation of daughter cells.