Becoming two

by Payal Bhatia
edited by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

Long before complex life arose, bacteria had mastered the art of living. To survive, these single-celled organisms learned how to divide, with one cell giving rise to two, then two to four, and so on. It was a survival strategy that turned out to be so convenient that it was adopted, and has evolved over billions of years. Decades of research have been put into understanding bacterial division. As it turns out, it is not a one-man show but takes the well-coordinated and timely appearance of several proteins to orchestrate the transformation of one cell into two. And it all starts with a protein called FtsZ, which is at the heart of a sort of scaffold that will ultimately allow a cell to divide into two.

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Protein Spotlight (ISSN 1424-4721) is a monthly review written by the Swiss-Prot team of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Spotlight articles describe a specific protein or family of proteins on an informal tone. Follow us: Subscribe · Twitter · Facebook

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A little bit of praise!

“I recently stumbled upon your columns. Let me congratulate you on achieving the near impossible, for your articles have enabled me to successfully marry IT with the Life Sciences and better explain the concepts of bioinformatics to those who are not in the know of the field.

Your articles are very well written, lucid, and contain just enough information to excite the reader to want to learn more about the topic being discussed. They fall in a very rare category where they are accessible to everyone, from the undergraduate students to research students who want to have a basic idea of the topics being discussed. Some of your articles, like "Our hollow architecture" and "Throb" are outstanding pieces.

I would highly recommend your articles as a necessary reading in undergrad classes to get students inspired about the various avenues of research.”

— Rohan Chaubal, Senior Researcher in Genomics, July 2011

Thank you to Sylvie Déthiollaz, Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen whose work we reproduce on our site!