Spatial Regulators for Bacterial Cell Division Self-Organize into Surface Waves in Vitro

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Science  09 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5877, pp. 789-792
DOI: 10.1126/science.1154413

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In the bacterium Escherichia coli, the Min proteins oscillate between the cell poles to select the cell center as division site. This dynamic pattern has been proposed to arise by self-organization of these proteins, and several models have suggested a reaction-diffusion type mechanism. Here, we found that the Min proteins spontaneously formed planar surface waves on a flat membrane in vitro. The formation and maintenance of these patterns, which extended for hundreds of micrometers, required adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP), and they persisted for hours. We present a reaction-diffusion model of the MinD and MinE dynamics that accounts for our experimental observations and also captures the in vivo oscillations.

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