Cell growth and division are coordinated, ensuring homeostasis under any given growth condition, with division occurring as cell mass doubles. The signals and controlling circuit(s) between growth and division are not well understood; however, it is known in Escherichia coli that the essential GTPase Era, which is growth rate regulated, coordinates the two functions and may be a checkpoint regulator of both. We have isolated a mutant of Era that separates its effect on growth and division. When overproduced, the mutant protein Era647 is dominant to wild-type Era and blocks division, causing cells to filament. Multicopy suppressors that prevent the filamentation phenotype of Era647 either increase the expression of FtsZ or decrease the expression of the Era647 protein. Excess Era647 induces complete delocalization of Z rings, providing an explanation for why Era647 induces filamentation, but this effect is probably not due to direct interaction between Era647 and FtsZ. The hypermorphic ftsZ* allele at the native locus can suppress the effects of Era647 overproduction, indicating that extra FtsZ is not required for the suppression, but another hypermorphic allele that accelerates cell division through periplasmic signaling, ftsL*, cannot. Together, these results suggest that Era647 blocks cell division by destabilizing the Z ring.
Xiaomei Zhou, Howard K. Peters III, Xintian Li, Nina Costantino, Vandana Kumari, Genbin Shi, Chao Tu, Todd A. Cameron, Daniel P. Haeusser, Daniel E. Vega, Xinhua Ji, William Margolin, Donald L. Court See related article in Journal of Bacteriology November 2020, vol. 202, no. 21, e00342-20.