skip to main content


Title: Intracellular protein gradients serve a variety of functions, such as the establishment of cell polarity or to provide positional information for gene expression in developing embryos. Given that cell size in a population can vary considerably, for the protein gradients to work properly they often have to be scaled to the size of the cell. Here, we examine a model of protein gradient formation within a cell that relies on cytoplasmic diffusion and cortical transport of proteins toward a cell pole. We show that the shape of the protein gradient is determined solely by the cell geometry. Furthermore, we show that the length scale over which the protein concentration in the gradient varies is determined by the linear dimensions of the cell, independent of the diffusion constant or the transport speed. This gradient provides scale-invariant positional information within a cell, which can be used for assembly of intracellular structures whose size is scaled to the linear dimensions of the cell, such as the cytokinetic ring and actin cables in budding yeast cells.

Intracellular protein gradients serve a variety of functions, such as the establishment of cell polarity or to provide positional information for gene expression in developing embryos. Given that cell size in a population can vary considerably, for the protein gradients to work properly they often have to be scaled to the size of the cell. Here, we examine a model of protein gradient formation within a cell that relies on cytoplasmic diffusion and cortical transport of proteins toward a cell pole. We show that the shape of the protein gradient is determined solely by the cell geometry. Furthermore, we show that the length scale over which the protein concentration in the gradient varies is determined by the linear dimensions of the cell, independent of the diffusion constant or the transport speed. This gradient provides scale-invariant positional information within a cell, which can be used for assembly of intracellular structures whose size is scaled to the linear dimensions of the cell, such as the cytokinetic ring and actin cables in budding yeast cells.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
2011846
NSF-PAR ID:
10506792
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Publisher / Repository:
eLife Sciences Publications Ltd
Date Published:
Journal Name:
eLife
Volume:
11
ISSN:
2050-084X
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Positional information encoded in signaling molecules is essential for early patterning in the prosensory domain of the developing cochlea. The sensory epithelium, the organ of Corti, contains an exquisite repeating pattern of hair cells and supporting cells. This requires precision in the morphogen signals that set the initial radial compartment boundaries, but this has not been investigated. To measure gradient formation and morphogenetic precision in developing cochlea, we developed a quantitative image analysis procedure measuring SOX2 and pSMAD1/5/9 profiles in mouse embryos at embryonic day (E)12.5, E13.5, and E14.5. Intriguingly, we found that the pSMAD1/5/9 profile forms a linear gradient up to the medial ~ 75% of the PSD from the pSMAD1/5/9 peak in the lateral edge during E12.5 and E13.5. This is a surprising activity readout for a diffusive BMP4 ligand secreted from a tightly constrained lateral region since morphogens typically form exponential or power-law gradient shapes. This is meaningful for gradient interpretation because while linear profiles offer the theoretically highest information content and distributed precision for patterning, a linear morphogen gradient has not yet been observed. Furthermore, this is unique to the cochlear epithelium as the pSMAD1/5/9 gradient is exponential in the surrounding mesenchyme. In addition to the information-optimized linear profile, we found that while pSMAD1/5/9 is stable during this timeframe, an accompanying gradient of SOX2 shifts dynamically. Last, through joint decoding maps of pSMAD1/5/9 and SOX2, we see that there is a high-fidelity mapping between signaling activity and position in the regions that will become Kölliker’s organ and the organ of Corti. Mapping is ambiguous in the prosensory domain precursory to the outer sulcus. Altogether, this research provides new insights into the precision of early morphogenetic patterning cues in the radial cochlea prosensory domain. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract Motivation

    Mapping positional features from one-dimensional (1D) sequences onto three-dimensional (3D) structures of biological macromolecules is a powerful tool to show geometric patterns of biochemical annotations and provide a better understanding of the mechanisms underpinning protein and nucleic acid function at the atomic level.

    Results

    We present a new library designed to display fully customizable interactive views between 1D positional features of protein and/or nucleic acid sequences and their 3D structures as isolated chains or components of macromolecular assemblies.

    Availability and implementation

    https://github.com/rcsb/rcsb-saguaro-3d.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

     
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Half a century after Lewis Wolpert's seminal conceptual advance on how cellular fates distribute in space, we provide a brief historical perspective on how the concept of positional information emerged and influenced the field of developmental biology and beyond. We focus on a modern interpretation of this concept in terms of information theory, largely centered on its application to cell specification in the early Drosophila embryo. We argue that a true physical variable (position) is encoded in local concentrations of patterning molecules, that this mapping is stochastic, and that the processes by which positions and corresponding cell fates are determined based on these concentrations need to take such stochasticity into account. With this approach, we shift the focus from biological mechanisms, molecules, genes and pathways to quantitative systems-level questions: where does positional information reside, how it is transformed and accessed during development, and what fundamental limits it is subject to? 
    more » « less
  4. Protein–protein interactions are essential for life but rarely thermodynamically quantified in living cells. In vitro efforts show that protein complex stability is modulated by high concentrations of cosolutes, including synthetic polymers, proteins, and cell lysates via a combination of hard-core repulsions and chemical interactions. We quantified the stability of a model protein complex, the A34F GB1 homodimer, in buffer,Escherichia colicells andXenopus laevisoocytes. The complex is more stable in cells than in buffer and more stable in oocytes thanE. coli. Studies of several variants show that increasing the negative charge on the homodimer surface increases stability in cells. These data, taken together with the fact that oocytes are less crowded thanE. colicells, lead to the conclusion that chemical interactions are more important than hard-core repulsions under physiological conditions, a conclusion also gleaned from studies of protein stability in cells. Our studies have implications for understanding how promiscuous—and specific—interactions coherently evolve for a protein to properly function in the crowded cellular environment.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    A peptidoglycan (PG) cell wall composed of glycans crosslinked by short peptides surrounds most bacteria and protects them against osmotic rupture. InEscherichia coli, cell elongation requires crosslink cleavage by PG endopeptidases to make space for the incorporation of new PG material throughout the cell cylinder. Cell division, on the contrary, requires the localized synthesis and remodeling of new PG at midcell by the divisome. Little is known about the factors that modulate transitions between these two modes of PG biogenesis. In a transposon‐insertion sequencing screen to identify mutants synthetically lethal with a defect in the division protein FtsP, we discovered that mutants impaired for cell division are sensitive to elevated activity of the endopeptidases. Increased endopeptidase activity in these cells was shown to interfere with the assembly of mature divisomes, and conversely, inactivation of MepS was found to suppress the lethality of mutations in essential division genes. Overall, our results are consistent with a model in which the cell elongation and division systems are in competition with one another and that control of PG endopeptidase activity represents an important point of regulation influencing the transition from elongation to the division mode of PG biogenesis.

     
    more » « less