In bacteria such as Escherichia coli, cytokinesis is orchestrated by two essential and highly conserved cytoskeletal proteins: tubulin-like FtsZ and actin-like FtsA. These proteins coassemble into a circumferential polymeric structure, called the Z ring, on the inner membrane at the site of cell division. Once assembled, the ring then recruits a large complex of other proteins to the membrane, probably distributed in individual subcomplexes. This protein machine, often called the divisome, induces synthesis of septal peptidoglycan while constricting at the leading edge of the growing septum, eventually splitting the cell into two. The machine needs to be robust, yet responsive to a variety of inputs, and is therefore overbuilt. This proposal focuses on FtsA and its interactions with FtsZ and with later divisome proteins, because recent results indicate that FtsA regulates assembly of FtsZ, in addition to its role in tethering FtsZ polymers to the membrane and recruiting later divisome components. We hypothesize that FtsA-mediated recycling of FtsZ polymers increases the number of membrane attachment sites for divisome subcomplexes, which stabilizes the machine and maximizes its flexibility. We propose to (i) elucidate how binding of ATP and ADP stimulates FtsA activity and its interaction with FtsZ;(ii) define the molecular contacts between FtsA and FtsZ subunits within FtsZ polymers;and (iii) understand how the FtsZ/FtsA complex interacts with the later divisome subcomplexes. The study of bacterial cell division is important for two reasons. First, it is a basic cellular process that needs to be understood. Second, with the current scarcity of novel antibiotics, the universal and essential process of bacterial cytokinesis is increasingly relevant as a target of antimicrobial drugs.

Public Health Relevance

This project investigates the molecular mechanism of bacterial cell division. The highly conserved proteins in the cell division apparatus represent novel targets for new therapeutics.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Prokaryotic Cell and Molecular Biology Study Section (PCMB)
Program Officer
Deatherage, James F
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Texas Health Science Center Houston
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Vega, Daniel E; Margolin, William (2018) Suppression of a Thermosensitive zipA Cell Division Mutant by Altering Amino Acid Metabolism. J Bacteriol 200:
Krupka, Marcin; Sobrinos-Sanguino, Marta; Jiménez, Mercedes et al. (2018) Escherichia coli ZipA Organizes FtsZ Polymers into Dynamic Ring-Like Protofilament Structures. MBio 9:
Lin, Yibin; Bogdanov, Mikhail; Lu, Shuo et al. (2018) The phospholipid-repair system LplT/Aas in Gram-negative bacteria protects the bacterial membrane envelope from host phospholipase A2 attack. J Biol Chem 293:3386-3398
Schoenemann, Kara M; Krupka, Marcin; Rowlett, Veronica W et al. (2018) Gain-of-function variants of FtsA form diverse oligomeric structures on lipids and enhance FtsZ protofilament bundling. Mol Microbiol 109:676-693
Dang, Hung Quang; Zhou, Qing; Rowlett, Veronica W et al. (2017) Proximity Interactions among Basal Body Components in Trypanosoma brucei Identify Novel Regulators of Basal Body Biogenesis and Inheritance. MBio 8:
Krupka, Marcin; Rowlett, Veronica W; Morado, Dustin et al. (2017) Escherichia coli FtsA forms lipid-bound minirings that antagonize lateral interactions between FtsZ protofilaments. Nat Commun 8:15957
Rowlett, Veronica W; Mallampalli, Venkata K P S; Karlstaedt, Anja et al. (2017) Impact of Membrane Phospholipid Alterations in Escherichia coli on Cellular Function and Bacterial Stress Adaptation. J Bacteriol 199:
Fan, Yongqiang; Evans, Christopher R; Barber, Karl W et al. (2017) Heterogeneity of Stop Codon Readthrough in Single Bacterial Cells and Implications for Population Fitness. Mol Cell 67:826-836.e5
Mura, Andrea; Fadda, Daniela; Perez, Amilcar J et al. (2017) Roles of the Essential Protein FtsA in Cell Growth and Division in Streptococcus pneumoniae. J Bacteriol 199:
Schoenemann, Kara M; Margolin, William (2017) Bacterial Division: FtsZ Treadmills to Build a Beautiful Wall. Curr Biol 27:R301-R303

Showing the most recent 10 out of 69 publications