Features critical for membrane binding revealed by DivIVA crystal structure

Maria A. Oliva, Sven Halbedel, Stefan M. Freund, Pavel Dutow, Thomas A. Leonard, Dmitry B. Veprintsev, Leendert W. Hamoen, Jan Löwe

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


DivIVA is a conserved protein in Gram-positive bacteria that localizes at the poles and division sites, presumably through direct sensing of membrane curvature. DivIVA functions as a scaffold and is vital for septum site selection during vegetative growth and chromosome anchoring during sporulation. DivIVA deletion causes filamentous growth in Bacillus subtilis, whereas overexpression causes hyphal branching in Streptomyces coelicolor. We have determined the crystal structure of the N-terminal (Nt) domain of DivIVA, and show that it forms a parallel coiled-coil. It is capped with two unique crossed and intertwined loops, exposing hydrophobic and positively charged residues that we show here are essential for membrane binding. An intragenic suppressor introducing a positive charge restores membrane binding after mutating the hydrophobic residues. We propose that the hydrophobic residues insert into the membrane and that the positively charged residues bind to the membrane surface. A low-resolution crystal structure of the C-terminal (Ct) domain displays a curved tetramer made from two parallel coiled-coils. The Nt and Ct parts were then merged into a model of the full length, 30 nm long DivIVA protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1988-2001
Number of pages14
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial cell division
  • Membrane curvature
  • NMR
  • Peripheral membrane protein
  • X-ray

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