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mBio (2015) "Remodeling of the Z-ring nanostructure during the Streptococcus pneumoniae cell cycle revealed by photoactivated localization microscopy"

Ovococci form a morphological group that includes several human pathogens (enterococci and streptococci). Their shape results from two modes of cell wall insertion, one allowing division and one allowing elongation. Both cell wall synthesis modes rely on a single cytoskeletal protein, FtsZ. Despite the central role of FtsZ in ovococci, a detailed view of the in vivo nanostructure of ovococcal Z-rings has been lacking thus far, limiting our understanding of their assembly and architecture. We have developed the use of photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) in the ovococcus human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae by engineering spDendra2, a photoconvertible fluorescent protein optimized for this bacterium. Labeling of endogenously expressed FtsZ with spDendra2 revealed the remodeling of the Z-ring’s morphology during the division cycle at the nanoscale level. We show that changes in the ring’s axial thickness and in the clustering propensity of FtsZ correlate with the advancement of the cell cycle. In addition, we observe double-ring substructures suggestive of short-lived intermediates that may form upon initiation of septal cell wall synthesis. These data are integrated into a model describing the architecture and the remodeling of the Z-ring during the cell cycle of ovococci..

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