Reconstitution of contractile FtsZ rings in liposomes.
FtsZ is a tubulin homolog and the major cytoskeletal protein in bacterial cell division. It assembles into the Z ring, which contains FtsZ and a dozen other division proteins, and constricts to divide the cell. We have constructed a membrane-targeted FtsZ (FtsZ-mts) by splicing an amphipathic helix to its C terminus. When mixed with lipid vesicles, FtsZ-mts was incorporated into the interior of some tubular vesicles. There it formed multiple Z rings that could move laterally in both directions along the length of the liposome and coalesce into brighter Z rings. Brighter Z rings produced visible constrictions in the liposome, suggesting that FtsZ itself can assemble the Z ring and generate a force. No other proteins were needed for assembly and force generation.