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Generating asymmetry in a changing environment: cell cycle regulation in dimorphic alphaproteobacteria

Authors
  • van Teeseling, Muriel C. F.1
  • Thanbichler, Martin1, 2, 3
  • 1 University of Marburg, Hans-Meerwein-Straße 4 , (Germany)
  • 2 Center for Synthetic Microbiology (SYNMIKRO), Hans-Meerwein-Straße 6 , (Germany)
  • 3 Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Karl-von-Frisch-Straße 10 , (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Biological Chemistry
Publisher
Walter de Gruyter GmbH
Publication Date
Sep 24, 2020
Volume
401
Issue
12
Pages
1349–1363
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/hsz-2020-0235
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

While many bacteria divide by symmetric binary fission, some alphaproteobacteria have strikingly asymmetric cell cycles, producing offspring that differs significantly in their morphology and reproductive state. To establish this asymmetry, these species employ a complex cell cycle regulatory pathway based on two-component signaling cascades. At the center of this network is the essential DNA-binding response regulator CtrA, which acts as a transcription factor controlling numerous genes with cell cycle-relevant functions as well as a regulator of chromosome replication. The DNA-binding activity of CtrA is controlled at the level of both protein phosphorylation and stability, dependent on an intricate network of regulatory proteins, whose function is tightly coordinated in time and space. CtrA is differentially activated in the two (developing) offspring, thereby establishing distinct transcriptional programs that ultimately determine their distinct cell fates. Phase-separated polar microdomains of changing composition sequester proteins involved in the (in-)activation and degradation of CtrA specifically at each pole. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of the CtrA pathway and discuss how it has evolved to regulate the cell cycle of morphologically distinct alphaproteobacteria.

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