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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00174

Dividing the archaeal way: the ancient Cdv cell-division machinery

  • 1Department of Bionanoscience, Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
  • 2Rudulf Magnus Brain Imaging Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands

Cell division in most prokaryotes is mediated by the well-studied fts genes, with FtsZ as the principal player. In many archaeal species, however, division is orchestrated differently. The Crenarchaeota phylum of archaea features the action of the three proteins, CdvABC. This Cdv system is a unique and less-well-studied division mechanism that merits closer inspection. In vivo, the three Cdv proteins form a composite band that contracts concomitantly with the septum formation. Of the three Cdv proteins, CdvA is the first to be recruited to the division site, while CdvB and CdvC are thought to participate in the active part of the Cdv division machinery. Interestingly, CdvB shares homology with a family of proteins from the eukaryotic ESCRT-III complex, and CdvC is a homologue of the eukaryotic Vps4 complex. These two eukaryotic complexes are key factors in the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) pathway, which is responsible for various budding processes in eukaryotic cells and which participates in the final stages of division in Metazoa. There, ESCRT-III forms a contractile machinery that actively cuts the membrane, whereas Vps4, which is an ATPase, is necessary for the turnover of the ESCRT membrane-abscission polymers. In contrast to CdvB and CdvC, CdvA is unique to the archaeal Crenarchaeota and Thaumarchaeota phyla. The Crenarchaeota division mechanism has often been suggested to represent a simplified version of the ESCRT division machinery thus providing a model system to study the evolution and mechanism of cell division in higher organisms. However, there are still many open questions regarding this parallelism and the division mechanism of Crenarchaeota. Here, we review the existing data on the role of the Cdv proteins in the division process of Crenarchaeota as well as concisely review the ESCRT system in eukaryotes. We survey the similarities and differences between the division and abscission mechanisms in the two cases. We suggest that the Cdv system functions differently in archaea than ESCRT does in eukaryotes, and that, unlike the eukaryotic case, the Cdv system’s main function may be related to surplus membrane invagination and cell-wall synthesis.

Keywords: The Cdv system, Crenarchaeota, Archaeal division, The ESCRT system, membrane remodeling

Received: 20 Nov 2017; Accepted: 25 Jan 2018.

Edited by:

Arieh Zaritsky, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Reviewed by:

Joe Lutkenhaus, Kansas University of Medical Center Research Institute, United States
William Margolin, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Caspi and Dekker. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Yaron Caspi, Delft University of Technology, Department of Bionanoscience, Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, Van der Maasweg 9, Delft, 2629 HZ, Netherlands,