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Identifying how bacterial cells find their middle: a new perspective

Authors


Summary

Bacterial cell division begins with the polymerization of the FtsZ protein to form a Z ring at the division site. This ring subsequently recruits the division machinery to allow cytokinesis. How the Z ring is positioned correctly remains a challenging question in biology and our knowledge in this area has been restricted to a few model species. Spatial regulation of division in these bacteria has been considered to be negatively controlled, with Z rings assembling in the area of least inhibition: the cell centre. An article in this issue of Molecular Microbiology reports the discovery of a new protein in Myxococcus xanthus, called PomZ (Positioning at midcell of FtsZ), that is required for the efficient recruitment of the Z ring to the division site. PomZ is a member of the Mrp/Min family of P loop ATPases that includes a diverse range of proteins involved in spatial regulation in bacteria. PomZ is the first positive regulator of Z ring positioning to be identified in vegetatively growing bacterial cells. Positive spatial regulation of division has previously been observed during sporulation in Streptomyces coelicolor and has been suggested to occur in Bacillus subtilis. Perhaps this will emerge as a common theme in the future.

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