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Peptidoglycan synthesis drives a single population of septal cell wall synthases during division in Bacillus subtilis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kevin WhitleyORCiD, James GrimshawORCiD, Dr David Roberts, Dr Eleni Karinou, Dr Seamus Holden



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Bacterial cell division requires septal peptidoglycan (sPG) synthesis by the divisome complex. Treadmilling of the essential tubulin homologue FtsZ has been implicated in septal constriction, though its precise role remains unclear. Here, we used live-cell single-molecule imaging of the divisome transpeptidase PBP2B to investigate sPG synthesis dynamics in Bacillus subtilis. In contrast to previous models, we observed a single population of processively-moving PBP2B molecules whose motion is driven by peptidoglycan synthesis and is not associated with FtsZ treadmilling. However, despite the asynchronous motions of PBP2B and FtsZ, a partial dependence of PBP2B processivity on FtsZ treadmilling was observed. Additionally, through single-molecule counting experiments we provide evidence that the divisome synthesis complex is multimeric. Our results support a model for B. subtilis division where a multimeric synthesis complex follows a single track dependent on sPG synthesis whose activity and dynamics are asynchronous with FtsZ treadmilling.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Whitley KD, Grimshaw J, Roberts DM, Karinou E, Stansfeld PJ, Holden S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Microbiology

Year: 2024

Volume: 9

Pages: 1064–1074

Print publication date: 01/04/2024

Online publication date: 13/03/2024

Acceptance date: 23/02/2024

Date deposited: 23/02/2024

ISSN (electronic): 2058-5276

Publisher: Nature


DOI: 10.1038/s41564-024-01650-9


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Funder referenceFunder name
206670/Z/17/ZWellcome Trust
BBSRC (BB/P01948X/1)
BBSRC 19ALERT mid-range equipment initiative grant (BB/T017570/1)
Newcastle University Research Fellowship (S.H.)
Wellcome Trust (208361/Z/17/Z) (P.J.S.)
Wellcome Trust (208361/Z/17/Z) (P.J.S.),
Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellowship (206670/Z/17/Z) (S.H.)