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Evidence That Bacteriophage λ Kil Peptide Inhibits Bacterial Cell Division by Disrupting FtsZ Protofilaments and Sequestering Protein Subunits

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Victor Hernandez-RocamoraORCiD


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The effects of Kil peptide from bacteriophage lambda on the assembly of Escherichia coli FtsZ into one subunit thick protofilaments were studied using combined biophysical and biochemical methods. Kil peptide has recently been identified as the factor from bacteriophage lambda responsible for the inhibition of bacterial cell division during lytic cycle, targeting FtsZ polymerization. Here, we show that this antagonist blocks FtsZ assembly into GTP-dependent protofilaments, producing a wide distribution of smaller oligomers compared with the average size of the intact protofilaments. The shortening of FtsZ protofilaments by Kil is detectable at concentrations of the peptide in the low micromolar range, the midpoint of the inhibition being close to its apparent affinity for GDP-bound FtsZ. This antagonist not only interferes with FtsZ assembly but also reverses the polymerization reaction. The negative regulation by Kil significantly reduces the GTPase activity of FtsZ protofilaments, and FtsZ polymers assembled in guanosine-5'-[(alpha,beta)-methyleno] triphosphate are considerably less sensitive to Kil. Our results suggest that, at high concentrations, Kil may use an inhibition mechanism involving the sequestration of FtsZ subunits, similar to that described for other inhibitors like the SOS response protein SulA or the moonlighting enzyme OpgH. This mechanism is different from those employed by the division site selection antagonists MinC and SlmA. This work provides new insight into the inhibition of FtsZ assembly by phages, considered potential tools against bacterial infection.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hernandez-Rocamora VM, Alfonso C, Margolin W, Zorrilla S, Rivas G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Year: 2015

Volume: 290

Issue: 33

Pages: 20325-20335

Print publication date: 14/08/2015

Online publication date: 29/06/2015

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

ISSN (print): 0021-9258

ISSN (electronic): 1083-351X

Publisher: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M115.653329


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Funder referenceFunder name
BIO2011-28941-C03Spanish Government
GM61074National Institutes of Health
RGP0050/2010Human Frontier Science Program