[Editor's Note: Scientists have apparently discovered the existence of a protein encoded by a nuclear gene of an alga that is targets mitochondria and is likely to play a role in the mitochondrial division process that produces two daughter mitochondria.]

Mitochondrial FtsZ in a Chromophyte Alga

Peter L. Beech, 13* Thao Nheu, 3 Thomas Schultz, 3 Shane Herbert, 1 Trevor Lithgow, 4 Paul R. Gilson, 23 Geoffrey I. McFadden 23, Science, Vol. 287, pp. 1276-1279 (February 18, 2000).


A homolog of the bacterial cell-division gene ftsZ was isolated from the alga Mallomonas splendens. The nuclear-encoded protein (MsFtsZ-mt) was closely related to FtsZs of the proteobacteria, possessed a mitochondrial-targeting signal, and localized in a pattern consistent with a role in mitochondrial division. Although FtsZs are known to act in the division of chloroplasts, MsFtsZ-mt appears to be a mitochondrial FtsZ and may represent a mitochondrial division protein.


1. Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Melbourne, 3125, Australia.

2. Plant Cell Biology Research Centre,

3. School of Botany,

4. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Melbourne, 3010, Australia.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: plbeech@deakin.edu.au

Present address: Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, 3050, Australia.

Present address: The Scripps Research Institute, 11055 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.