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Integrated biphasic growth rate, gene expression, and cell-size homeostasis behaviour of single B. subtilis cells

By Niclas Nordholt, Johan H. van Heerden, Frank J. Bruggeman

Posted 07 Jan 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/510925

The growth rate of single bacterial cells is continuously disturbed by random fluctuations in biosynthesis rates and by deterministic cell-cycle events, such as division, genome duplication, and septum formation. It is not understood whether, and how, bacteria reject these disturbances. Here we quantified growth and constitutive protein expression dynamics of single Bacillus subtilis cells, as a function of cell-cycle-progression. Variation in birth size and growth rate, resulting from unequal cell division, is largely compensated for when cells divide again. We analysed the cell-cycle-dynamics of these compensations and found that both growth and protein expression exhibited biphasic behaviour. During a first phase of variable duration, the absolute rates were approximately constant and cells behaved as sizers. In the second phase, rates increased and growth behaviour exhibited characteristics of a timer-strategy. This work shows how cell-cycle-dependent rate adjustments of biosynthesis and growth are integrated to compensate for physio-logical disturbances caused by cell division. IMPORTANCE Under constant conditions, bacterial populations can maintain a fixed average cell size and constant exponential growth rate. At the single cell-level, however, cell-division can cause significant physiological perturbations, requiring compensatory mechanisms to restore the growth-related characteristics of individual cells toward that of the average cell. Currently, there is still a major gap in our understanding of the dynamics of these mechanisms, i.e. how adjustments in growth, metabolism and biosynthesis are integrated during the bacterial cell-cycle to compensate the disturbances caused by cell division. Here we quantify growth and constitutive protein expression in individual bacterial cells at sub-cell-cycle resolution. Significantly, both growth and protein production rates display structured and coordinated cell-cycle-dependent dynamics. These patterns reveal the dynamics of growth rate and size compensations during cell-cycle progression. Our findings provide a dynamic cell-cycle perspective that offers novel avenues for the interpretation of physiological processes that underlie cellular homeostasis in bacteria.

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