Cell-free biogenesis of bacterial division proto-rings that can constrict liposomes

Elisa Godino, Jonás Noguera López, Ilias Zarguit, Anne Doerr, Mercedes Jimenez, Germán Rivas, Christophe Danelon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


A major challenge towards the realization of an autonomous synthetic cell resides in the encoding of a division machinery in a genetic programme. In the bacterial cell cycle, the assembly of cytoskeletal proteins into a ring defines the division site. At the onset of the formation of the Escherichia coli divisome, a proto-ring consisting of FtsZ and its membrane-recruiting proteins takes place. Here, we show that FtsA-FtsZ ring-like structures driven by cell-free gene expression can be reconstituted on planar membranes and inside liposome compartments. Such cytoskeletal structures are found to constrict the liposome, generating elongated membrane necks and budding vesicles. Additional expression of the FtsZ cross-linker protein ZapA yields more rigid FtsZ bundles that attach to the membrane but fail to produce budding spots or necks in liposomes. These results demonstrate that gene-directed protein synthesis and assembly of membrane-constricting FtsZ-rings can be combined in a liposome-based artificial cell.

Original languageEnglish
Article number539
Number of pages11
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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