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Bulk-surface coupling reconciles Min-protein pattern formation in vitro and in vivo

By Fridtjof Brauns, Grzegorz Pawlik, Jacob Halatek, Jacob Kerssemakers, Erwin Frey, Cees Dekker

Posted 03 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.01.971952

Self-organisation of Min proteins is responsible for the spatial control of cell division in Escherichia coli , and has been studied both in vivo and in vitro . Intriguingly, the protein patterns observed in these settings differ qualitatively and quantitatively. This puzzling dichotomy has not been resolved to date. Using reconstituted proteins in laterally wide microchambers with a well-controlled height, we show that the Min protein dynamics on the membrane crucially depend on bulk gradients normal to the membrane. A theoretical analysis shows that in vitro patterns at low bulk height are driven by the same lateral oscillation mode as pole-to-pole oscillations in vivo . At larger bulk height, additional vertical oscillation modes set in, marking the transition to a qualitatively different in vitro regime. Our work qualitatively resolves the Min system’s in vivo / in vitro conundrum and provides important insights on the mechanisms underlying protein patterns in bulk-surface coupled systems. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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