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

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

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Abstract

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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