MBio 12 (3) - [2021-05-04; online 2021-05-04]
The highly conserved chaperonin GroESL performs a crucial role in protein folding; however, the essential cellular pathways that rely on this chaperone are underexplored. Loss of GroESL leads to severe septation defects in diverse bacteria, suggesting the folding function of GroESL may be integrated with the bacterial cell cycle at the point of cell division. Here, we describe new connections between GroESL and the bacterial cell cycle using the model organism Caulobacter crescentus Using a proteomics approach, we identify candidate GroESL client proteins that become insoluble or are degraded specifically when GroESL folding is insufficient, revealing several essential proteins that participate in cell division and peptidoglycan biosynthesis. We demonstrate that other cell cycle events, such as DNA replication and chromosome segregation, are able to continue when GroESL folding is insufficient. We further find that deficiency of two FtsZ-interacting proteins, the bacterial actin homologue FtsA and the constriction regulator FzlA, mediate the GroESL-dependent block in cell division. Our data show that sufficient GroESL is required to maintain normal dynamics of the FtsZ scaffold and divisome functionality in C. crescentus In addition to supporting divisome function, we show that GroESL is required to maintain the flow of peptidoglycan precursors into the growing cell wall. Linking a chaperone to cell division may be a conserved way to coordinate environmental and internal cues that signal when it is safe to divide.IMPORTANCE All organisms depend on mechanisms that protect proteins from misfolding and aggregation. GroESL is a highly conserved molecular chaperone that functions to prevent protein aggregation in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. Despite detailed biochemical understanding of GroESL function, the in vivo pathways that strictly depend on this chaperone remain poorly defined in most species. This study provides new insights into how GroESL is linked to the bacterial cell division machinery, a crucial target of current and future antimicrobial agents. We identify a functional interaction between GroESL and the cell division proteins FzlA and FtsA, which modulate Z-ring function. FtsA is a conserved bacterial actin homologue, suggesting that as in eukaryotes, some bacteria exhibit a connection between cytoskeletal actin proteins and chaperonins. Our work further defines how GroESL is integrated with cell wall synthesis and illustrates how highly conserved folding machines ensure the functioning of fundamental cellular processes during stress.