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Summary

Bacterial cytokinesis is orchestrated by an assembly of essential cell division proteins that form a supramolecular structure known as the divisome. DivIB and its orthologue FtsQ are essential members of the divisome in Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria respectively. DivIB is a bitopic membrane protein composed of an N-terminal cytoplasmic domain, a single-pass transmembrane domain, and a C-terminal extracytoplasmic region comprised of three separate protein domains. A molecular dissection approach was used to determine which of these domains are essential for recruitment of DivIB to incipient division sites and for its cell division functions. We show that DivIB has three molecular epitopes that mediate its localization to division septa; two epitopes are encoded within the extracytoplasmic region while the third is located in the transmembrane domain. It is proposed that these epitopes represent sites of interaction with other divisomal proteins, and we have used this information to develop a model of the way in which DivIB and FtsQ are integrated into the divisome. Remarkably, two of the three DivIB localization epitopes are dispensable for vegetative cell division; this suggests that the divisome is assembled using a complex network of protein–protein interactions, many of which are redundant and likely to be individually non-essential.