skip to main content

Title: Using conditional independence tests to elucidate causal links in cell cycle regulation in Escherichia coli
How cells regulate their cell cycles is a central question for cell biology. Models of cell size homeostasis have been proposed for bacteria, archaea, yeast, plant, and mammalian cells. New experiments bring forth high volumes of data suitable for testing existing models of cell size regulation and proposing new mechanisms. In this paper, we use conditional independence tests in conjunction with data of cell size at key cell cycle events (birth, initiation of DNA replication, and constriction) in the model bacterium Escherichia coli to select between the competing cell cycle models. We find that in all growth conditions that we study, the division event is controlled by the onset of constriction at midcell. In slow growth, we corroborate a model where replication-related processes control the onset of constriction at midcell. In faster growth, we find that the onset of constriction is affected by additional cues beyond DNA replication. Finally, we also find evidence for the presence of additional cues triggering initiations of DNA replication apart from the conventional notion where the mother cells solely determine the initiation event in the daughter cells via an adder per origin model. The use of conditional independence tests is a different approach in the context of understanding cell cycle regulation and it can be used in future studies to further explore the causal links between cell events.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Summary

    The mechanisms that restrict peptidoglycan biosynthesis to the pole during elongation and re‐direct peptidoglycan biosynthesis to mid‐cell during cell division in polar‐growing Alphaproteobacteria are largely unknown. Here, we explore the role of early division proteins ofAgrobacterium tumefaciensincluding three FtsZ homologs, FtsA and FtsW in the transition from polar growth to mid‐cell growth and ultimately cell division. Although two of the three FtsZ homologs localize to mid‐cell, exhibit GTPase activity and form co‐polymers, only one, FtsZAT, is required for cell division. We find that FtsZATis required not only for constriction and cell separation, but also for initiation of peptidoglycan synthesis at mid‐cell and cessation of polar peptidoglycan biosynthesis. Depletion of FtsZATinA. tumefacienscauses a striking phenotype: cells are extensively branched and accumulate growth active poles through tip splitting events. When cell division is blocked at a later stage by depletion of FtsA or FtsW, polar growth is terminated and ectopic growth poles emerge from mid‐cell. Overall, this work suggests thatA. tumefaciensFtsZ makes distinct contributions to the regulation of polar growth and cell division.

    more » « less

    Ribosomes—the primary macromolecular machines responsible for translating the genetic code into proteins—are complexes of precisely folded RNA and proteins. The ways in which their production and assembly are managed by the living cell is of deep biological importance. Here we extend a recent spatially resolved whole‐cell model of ribosome biogenesis in a fixed volume [Earnest et al., Biophys J 2015, 109, 1117–1135] to include the effects of growth, DNA replication, and cell division. All biological processes are described in terms of reaction‐diffusion master equations and solved stochastically using the Lattice Microbes simulation software. In order to determine the replication parameters, we construct and analyze a series ofEscherichia colistrains with fluorescently labeled genes distributed evenly throughout their chromosomes. By measuring these cells’ lengths and number of gene copies at the single‐cell level, we could fit a statistical model of the initiation and duration of chromosome replication. We found that for our slow‐growing (120 min doubling time)E. colicells, replication was initiated 42 min into the cell cycle and completed after an additional 42 min. While simulations of the biogenesis model produce the correct ribosome and mRNA counts over the cell cycle, the kinetic parameters for transcription and degradation are lower than anticipated from a recent analytical time dependent model of in vivo mRNA production. Describing expression in terms of a simple chemical master equation, we show that the discrepancies are due to the lack of nonribosomal genes in the extended biogenesis model which effects the competition of mRNA for ribosome binding, and suggest corrections to parameters to be used in the whole‐cell model when modeling expression of the entire transcriptome. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 105: 735–751, 2016.

    more » « less
  3. Glass, Jennifer B. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Standard methods for calculating microbial growth rates (μ) through the use of proxies, such as in situ fluorescence, cell cycle, or cell counts, are critical for determining the magnitude of the role bacteria play in marine carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) cycles. Taxon-specific growth rates in mixed assemblages would be useful for attributing biogeochemical processes to individual species and understanding niche differentiation among related clades, such as found in Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus . We tested three novel DNA sequencing-based methods (iRep, bPTR, and GRiD) for evaluating the growth of light-synchronized Synechococcus cultures under different light intensities and temperatures. In vivo fluorescence and cell cycle analysis were used to obtain standard estimates of growth rate for comparison with those of the sequence-based methods (SBM). None of the SBM values were correlated with growth rates calculated by standard techniques despite the fact that all three SBM were correlated with the percentage of cells in S phase (DNA replication) over the diel cycle. Inaccuracy in determining the time of maximum DNA replication is unlikely to account entirely for the absence of a relationship between SBM and growth rate, but the fact that most microbes in the surface ocean exhibit some degree of diel cyclicity is a caution for application of these methods. SBM correlate with DNA replication but cannot be interpreted quantitatively in terms of growth rate. IMPORTANCE Small but abundant, cyanobacterial strains such as the photosynthetic Synechococcus spp. are important because they contribute significantly to primary productivity in the ocean. These bacteria generate oxygen and provide biologically available carbon, which is essential for organisms at higher trophic levels. The small size and diversity of natural microbial assemblages mean that taxon-specific activities (e.g., growth rate) are difficult to obtain in the field. It has been suggested that sequence-based methods (SBM) may be able to solve this problem. We find, however, that SBM can detect DNA replication and are correlated with phases of the cell cycle but cannot be interpreted in terms of absolute growth rate for Synechococcus cultures growing under a day-night cycle, like that experienced in the ocean. 
    more » « less
  4. Cellular differentiation is a fundamental strategy used by cells to generate specialized functions at specific stages of development. The bacteriumCaulobacter crescentusemploys a specialized dimorphic life cycle consisting of two differentiated cell types. How environmental cues, including mechanical inputs such as contact with a surface, regulate this cell cycle remain unclear. Here, we find that surface sensing by the physical perturbation of retracting extracellular pilus filaments accelerates cell-cycle progression and cellular differentiation. We show that physical obstruction of dynamic pilus activity by chemical perturbation or by a mutation in the outer-membrane pilus secretin CpaC stimulates early initiation of chromosome replication. In addition, we find that surface contact stimulates cell-cycle progression by demonstrating that surface-stimulated cells initiate early chromosome replication to the same extent as planktonic cells with obstructed pilus activity. Finally, we show that obstruction of pilus retraction stimulates the synthesis of the cell-cycle regulator cyclic diguanylate monophosphate (c-di-GMP) through changes in the activity and localization of two key regulatory histidine kinases that control cell fate and differentiation. Together, these results demonstrate that surface contact and sensing by alterations in pilus activity stimulateC. crescentusto bypass its developmentally programmed temporal delay in cell differentiation to more quickly adapt to a surface-associated lifestyle.

    more » « less
  5. In high-latitude environments where seasonal changes include periods of harsh conditions, many arthropods enter diapause, a period of dormancy that is hormonally regulated. Diapause is characterized by very low metabolism, resistance to environmental stress, and developmental arrest. It allows an organism to optimize the timing of reproduction by synchronizing offspring growth and development with periods of high food availability. In species that enter dormancy as pre-adults or adults, termination of diapause is marked by the resumption of physiological processes, an increase in metabolic rates and once transitioned into adulthood for females, the initiation of oogenesis. In many cases, individuals start feeding again and newly acquired resources become available to fuel egg production. However, in the subarctic capital-breeding copepod Neocalanus flemingeri, feeding is decoupled from oogenesis. Thus, optimizing reproduction limited by fixed resources such that all eggs are of high quality and fully-provisioned, requires regulation of the number of oocytes. However, it is unknown if and how this copepod limits oocyte formation. In this study, the phase in oocyte production by post-diapause females that involved DNA replication in the ovary and oviducts was examined using incubation in 5-Ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU). Both oogonia and oocytes incorporated EdU, with the number of EdU-labeled cells peaking at 72 hours following diapause termination. Cell labeling with EdU remained high for two weeks, decreasing thereafter with no labeling detected by four weeks post diapause, and three to four weeks before spawning of the first clutch of eggs. The results suggest that oogenesis is sequential in N. flemingeri with formation of new oocytes starting within 24 hours of diapause termination and limited to the first few weeks. Lipid consumption during diapause was minimal and relatively modest initially. This early phase in the reproductive program precedes mid-oogenesis and vitellogenesis 2, when oocytes increase in size and accumulate yolk and lipid reserves. By limiting DNA replication to the initial phase, the females effectively separate oocyte production from oocyte provisioning. A sequential oogenesis is unlike the income-breeder strategy of most copepods in which oocytes at all stages of maturation are found concurrently in the reproductive structures. 
    more » « less