Publication Date



Open Biology


Cytokinesis is a fundamental process for bacterial survival and proliferation, involving the formation of a ring by filaments of the GTPase FtsZ, spatio-temporally regulated through the coordinated action of several factors. The mechanisms of this regulation remain largely unsolved, but the inhibition of FtsZ polymerization by the nucleoid occlusion factor SlmA and filament stabilization by the widely conserved cross-linking protein ZapA are known to play key roles. It was recently described that FtsZ, SlmA and its target DNA sequences (SlmA-binding sequence (SBS)) form phase-separated biomolecular condensates, a type of structure associated with cellular compartmentalization and resistance to stress. Using biochemical reconstitution and orthogonal biophysical approaches, we show that FtsZ-SlmA-SBS condensates captured ZapA in crowding conditions and when encapsulated inside cell-like microfluidics microdroplets. We found that, through non-competitive binding, the nucleotide-dependent FtsZ condensate/polymer interconversion was regulated by the ZapA/SlmA ratio. This suggests a highly concentration-responsive tuning of the interconversion that favours FtsZ polymer stabilization by ZapA under conditions mimicking intracellular crowding. These results highlight the importance of biomolecular condensates as concentration hubs for bacterial division factors, which can provide clues to their role in cell function and bacterial survival of stress conditions, such as those generated by antibiotic treatment.


biomolecular condensates, bacterial division, crowding-driven phase separation, membraneless compartments, subcellular organization, biochemical reconstitution in cytomimetic media



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