Open Access Open Badges Research article

Simple modeling of FtsZ polymers on flat and curved surfaces: correlation with experimental in vitro observations

Alfonso Paez1, Pablo Mateos-Gil2, Ines Hörger1, Jesús Mingorance3, Germán Rivas4, Miguel Vicente5, Marisela Vélez67* and Pedro Tarazona1

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Física Teórica de la Materia Condensada, C-V-6a Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid E-28049, Spain

2 Instituto Nicolás Cabrera de Ciencia de Materiales, C-XVI-4a, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid E-28049, Spain

3 Unidad de Investigación y Servicio de Microbiología, Hospital Universitario La Paz, Paseo de La Castellana, 261, Madrid, E-28046, Spain

4 Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Ramiro de Maeztu 9, E-28040 Madrid, Spain

5 Centro Nacional de Biotecnología, CSIC, Campus de Cantoblanco, C/Darwin n 3, Madrid E-28049, Spain

6 Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica, CSIC C/Marie Curie, 2, Cantoblanco, Madrid, E-28049, Spain

7 Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados en Nanociencia (IMDEA-Nanociencia) Facultad de Ciencias, C-IX-3a Cantoblanco, Madrid, E-28049, Spain

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PMC Biophysics 2009, 2:8  doi:10.1186/1757-5036-2-8

Published: 22 October 2009


FtsZ is a GTPase that assembles at midcell into a dynamic ring that constricts the membrane to induce cell division in the majority of bacteria, in many archea and several organelles. In vitro, FtsZ polymerizes in a GTP-dependent manner forming a variety of filamentous flexible structures. Based on data derived from the measurement of the in vitro polymerization of Escherichia coli FtsZ cell division protein we have formulated a model in which the fine balance between curvature, flexibility and lateral interactions accounts for structural and dynamic properties of the FtsZ polymers observed with AFM. The experimental results have been used by the model to calibrate the interaction energies and the values obtained indicate that the filaments are very plastic. The extension of the model to explore filament behavior on a cylindrical surface has shown that the FtsZ condensates promoted by lateral interactions can easily form ring structures through minor modulations of either filament curvature or longitudinal bond energies. The condensation of short, monomer exchanging filaments into rings is shown to produce enough force to induce membrane deformations.

PACS codes: 87.15.ak, 87.16.ka, 87.17.Ee