Bacterial cell division protein FtsZ assembles into protofilaments, which can adopt a straight or curved conformation, similar to its eukaryotic homolog, tubulin. The straight protofilaments can assemble into sheets with a lattice similar to the microtubule wall. The curved protofilaments can form rings when adsorbed to a lipid monolayer, but in solution they form helices. 4 helices assemble together to make a tube, the characteristic polymer of the curved protofilament. GTP favors the straight conformation, while GDP favors the curved. We show here that addition of EDTA and GTP to tubes causes a rapid transformation to straight protofilament sheets. Apparently when the magnesium is chelated the GDP in the curved protofilaments dissociates rapidly and is replaced with GTP, and this GTP induces the transition to straight protofilaments.
1999 by Japan Society for Cell Biology