Frontiers in Microbiology

Localization of aggregating proteins in bacteria depends on the rate of addition

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Many proteins are observed to localize to specific subcellular regions within bacteria. Recent experiments have shown that proteins that have self-interactions that lead them to aggregate tend to localize to the poles. Theoretical modeling of the localization of aggregating protein within bacterial cell geometries shows that aggregates can spontaneously localize to the pole due to nucleoid occlusion. The resulting polar localization, whether it be to a single pole or to both was shown to depend on the rate of protein addition. Motivated by these predictions we selected a set of genes from Escherichia coli, whose protein products have been reported to localize when tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP), and explored the dynamics of their localization. We induced protein expression from each gene at different rates and found that in all cases unipolar patterning is favored at low rates of expression whereas bipolar is favored at higher rates of expression. Our findings are consistent with the predictions of the model, suggesting that localization may be due to aggregation plus nucleoid occlusion. When we expressed GFP by itself under the same conditions, no localization was observed. These experiments highlight the potential importance of protein aggregation, nucleoid occlusion and rate of protein expression in driving polar localization of functional proteins in bacteria. © 2014 Scheu, Gill, Saberi, Meyer and Emberly.


06 Aug 2014


Frontiers in Microbiology