Kinetic modeling of the assembly, dynamic steady state, and contraction of the FtsZ ring in prokaryotic cytokinesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cytokinesis in prokaryotes involves the assembly of a polymeric ring composed of FtsZ protein monomeric units. The Z ring forms at the division plane and is attached to the membrane. After assembly, it maintains a stable yet dynamic steady state. Once induced, the ring contracts and the membrane constricts. In this work, we present a computational deterministic biochemical model exhibiting this behavior. The model is based on biochemical features of FtsZ known from in vitro studies, and it quantitatively reproduces relevant in vitro data. An essential part of the model is a consideration of interfacial reactions involving the cytosol volume, where monomeric FtsZ is dispersed, and the membrane surface in the cell's mid-zone where the ring is assembled. This approach allows the same chemical model to simulate either in vitro or in vivo conditions by adjusting only two geometrical parameters. The model includes minimal reactions, components, and assumptions, yet is able to reproduce sought-after in vivo behavior, including the rapid assembly of the ring via FtsZ-polymerization, the formation of a dynamic steady state in which GTP hydrolysis leads to the exchange of monomeric subunits between cytoplasm and the ring, and finally the induced contraction of the ring. The model gives a quantitative estimate for coupling between the rate of GTP hydrolysis and of FtsZ subunit turnover between the assembled ring and the cytoplasmic pool as observed. Membrane constriction is chemically driven by the strong tendency of GTP-bound FtsZ to self-assembly. The model suggests a possible mechanism of membrane contraction without a motor protein. The portion of the free energy of GTP hydrolysis released in cyclization is indirectly used in this energetically unfavorable process. The model provides a limit to the mechanistic complexity required to mimic ring behavior, and it highlights the importance of parallel in vitro and in vivo modeling.

published proceedings

  • PLoS Comput Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • Surovtsev, I. V., Morgan, J. J., & Lindahl, P. A.

citation count

  • 39

complete list of authors

  • Surovtsev, Ivan V||Morgan, Jeffrey J||Lindahl, Paul A

editor list (cited editors)

  • Shakhnovich, E. I.

publication date

  • July 2008