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.

SwissProt
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

More from Protein Spotlight

Tales From A Small World

Tales From A Small World cover

Tales From A Small World is a collection of the first hundred articles which originally appeared on this site. Published in September 2009, the book is enriched by poems from the Dublin poet, Pat Ingoldsby. Learn more and order your copy online.

Journey Into A Tiny World

Journey Into A Tiny World cover

« Globin and Poietin set out to save Lily's life. But time is running short and they can't find the marrow... Here is the tale of their courage, fun and laughter on a journey that takes them deep into the tiniest of worlds.» For children. Learn more and order your copy online.

Snapshot : LRRTM1

Without a brain, there is not much we would be able to do. Likewise, the architecture of our brain makes us what we are. And any meddling with it is likely to have an effect on our behaviour, one way or another. A form of behaviour particular to humans and which can be distinguished from other animals – even its closest relatives – is our handedness. We have been using our hands for millions of years. So have our nearest cousins you may argue. Yes. But humans are singular in that they have a distinct preference for right-handedness – a fact which must echo a singular brain structure. Indeed, the human brain is divided into two hemispheres: the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. And we now know of one protein which plays a role in sculpting them: leucine-rich repeat transmembrane neuronal protein or LRRTM1.

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 Theo Gerritsen whose work we reproduce on our site!