The C-terminal linker of Escherichia coli FtsZ functions as an intrinsically disordered peptide.
The tubulin homologue FtsZ provides the cytoskeletal framework and constriction force for bacterial cell division. FtsZ has an 50-amino-acid (aa) linker between the protofilament-forming globular domain and the C-terminal (Ct) peptide that binds FtsA and ZipA, tethering FtsZ to the membrane. This Ct-linker is widely divergent across bacterial species and thought to be an intrinsically disordered peptide (IDP). We confirmed that the Ct-linkers from three bacterial species behaved as IDPs in vitro by circular dichroism and trypsin proteolysis. We made chimeras, swapping the Escherichia coli linker for Ct-linkers from other bacteria, and even for an unrelated IDP from human α-adducin. Most substitutions allowed for normal cell division, suggesting that sequence of the IDP did not matter. With few exceptions, almost any sequence appears to work. Length, however, was important: IDPs shorter than 43 or longer than 95 aa had compromised or no function. We conclude that the Ct-linker functions as a flexible tether between the globular domain of FtsZ in the protofilament, and its attachment to FtsA/ZipA at the membrane. Modelling the Ct-linker as a worm-like chain, we predict that it functions as a stiff entropic spring linking the bending protofilaments to the membrane.
Gardner, KAJA; Moore, DA; Erickson, HP
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