The structural integrity of the membrane-embedded bacterial division complex FtsQBL studied with molecular dynamics simulations

Yu Wai Chen, Wai Po Kong, Kwok Yin Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The FtsQBL is an essential molecular complex sitting midway through bacterial divisome assembly. To visualize and understand its structure, and the consequences of its membrane anchorage, we produced a model of the E. coli complex using the deep-learning prediction utility, AlphaFold 2. The heterotrimeric model was inserted into a 3-lipid model membrane and subjected to a 500-ns atomistic molecular dynamics simulation. The model is superb in quality and captures most experimentally derived structural features, at both the secondary structure and the side-chain levels. The model consists of a uniquely interlocking module contributed by the C-terminal regions of all three proteins. The functionally important constriction control domain residues of FtsB and FtsL are located at a fixed vertical position of ∼43–49 Å from the membrane surface. While the periplasmic domains of all three proteins are well-defined and rigid, the single transmembrane helices of each are flexible and their collective twisting and bending contribute to most structural variations, according to principal component analysis. Considering FtsQ only, the protein is more flexible in its free state relative to its complexed state—with the biggest structural changes located at the elbow between the transmembrane helix and the α-domain. The disordered N-terminal domains of FtsQ and FtsL associate with the cytoplasmic surface of the inner membrane instead of freely venturing into the solvent. Contact network analysis highlighted the formation of the interlocking trimeric module in FtsQBL as playing a central role in mediating the overall structure of the complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2602-2612
Number of pages11
JournalComputational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • AlphaFold 2
  • Cell division
  • CHARMM-GUI membrane builder
  • CHARMM36 force field
  • ColabFold
  • Divisome
  • FtsB
  • FtsL
  • FtsQ
  • Gromacs
  • PBP1b
  • Protein-protein interaction
  • Transmembrane proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'The structural integrity of the membrane-embedded bacterial division complex FtsQBL studied with molecular dynamics simulations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this