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Force generation in bacterial cell division

Mathematical Biology

Speaker: Eric Cytrynbaum, University of British Columbia
Location: 2112 MSB
Start time: Tue, Nov 25 2008, 12:00PM

FtsZ, a bacterial homologue of tubulin, plays a central role in bacterial cell division. It is the first of many proteins recruited to the division site to form the Z-ring, a dynamic structure that recycles on the time scale of seconds and is required for division to proceed. FtsZ has been recently shown to form rings inside tubular liposomes and to constrict the liposome membrane without the presence of other proteins, particularly molecular motors which appear to be absent from the bacterial proteome. In this talk, I will discuss a mathematical model recent proposed by J. Allard and myself for the dynamic turnover of the Z-ring and for its ability to generate a constriction force. Force generation is assumed to derive from GTP hydrolysis which is known to induce curvature in FtsZ filaments. We find that this transition to a curved state is capable of generating a sufficient force to drive cell-wall invagination in vivo and can also explain the constriction seen in the in vitro liposome experiments. Our observations resolve the question of how FtsZ might accomplish cell division despite the highly dynamic nature of the Z-ring and the lack of molecular motors.