Cell Biology

Daughters Divided But Equal

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Science  04 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6017, pp. 513
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6017.513-a

Bacterial cells grow and divide rapidly and must ensure that upon division, both daughter cells receive all of the components necessary for future development. In Escherichia coli, Min proteins help the cell to select the appropriate site for cell division so that each daughter cell contains its own complement of DNA. During this process, however, the Min proteins themselves are distributed unevenly throughout the cell, oscillating from pole to pole. Di Ventura and Sourjik explored whether self-organizational principles may underlie the partitioning of Min components during cell division. Microscopic analysis of the Min proteins in dividing cells revealed that when the cells are close to division, each daughter cell displays its own oscillating Min system. As the septum constricts, the amounts of Min proteins in the two daughter cells equilibrate. The data could be successfully modeled simply by including the known membrane interaction properties of the Min proteins and the level of separation between the new cells, depending on the size of the newly forming septum (above). Thus, the self-organizing behavior of the Min proteins together with the geometrical constraints on protein movement as cytokinesis proceeds leads to the generation of two daughter cells with a full complement of functional Min proteins.

Mol. Syst. Biol. 7, 457 (2011).

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