We have previously shown that expression of chiZ (Rv2719c), encoding a cell wall hydrolase, is upregulated in response to DNA damaging agents and exposure to cephalexin. Furthermore, increased levels of ChiZ lead to decreased viability, loss of membrane integrity and defects in FtsZ-GFP localization and cell division. We now show that ChiZ N′-terminal 110 amino acid region, containing the cell wall hydrolase activity, is sufficient to modulate FtsZ-GFP localization. Further, we found that FtsZ-GFP rings are stabilized in a chiZ deletion strain indicating that ChiZ activity regulates FtsZ assembly. Over-expression of ftsZ did not reverse the reduction in viability caused by overproduction of ChiZ indicating that ChiZ neither interacts with nor directly influences FtsZ assembly. Bacterial two-hybrid assays revealed that ChiZ interacts with FtsI and FtsQ, two other septasomal proteins, but not with FtsZ. Finally, we show that ChiZ is not required for virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in murine macrophages and mice. Our data suggest that optimal levels and activity of the cell wall hydrolase ChiZ are required for regulated cell division in mycobacteria.
Keywords: Mycobacteria, Cell division, FtsZ, Cell-wall hydrolases, ChiZ