Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Inner “clockwork” sets the time for cell division in bacteria

10.02.2020

Researchers at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have discovered a “clockwork” mechanism that controls cell division in bacteria. In two publications, in “Nature Communications” und “PNAS”, they report how a small signaling molecule starts the “clock”, which informs the cell about the right time to reproduce.

The ability of pathogens to multiply in the host is crucial for the spread of infections. The speed of bacterial division greatly depends on the environmental conditions.


The signaling molecule c-di-GMP controls cell division in Caulobacter crescentus.

Image: University of Basel, Swiss Nanoscience Institute/Biozentrum

Under unfavorable conditions, such as nutrient deficiency, bacteria tend to pause after division and reproduce more slowly. But how do bacteria know, when it is time to enter the next round of cell division?

A team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, led by Prof. Urs Jenal has now identified a central switch for reproduction in the model bacterium Caulobacter crescentus: the signaling molecule c-di-GMP.

In their current study, published in the journal Nature Communications, they report that this molecule initiates a “clock-like” mechanism, which determines whether individual bacteria reproduce.

A signaling molecule regulates “clockwork” in bacteria

How long a cell pauses after division and how it then decides to engage in the next round of division is still poorly understood. The signaling molecule c-di-GMP plays a key role in this process.

“The rise in the c-di-GMP level sets the individual cogwheels of the cell’s clock into action, one after the other,” explains Jenal. “These cogwheels are enzymes called kinases. They prepare the transition of the cell from the resting to the division phase.”

Enzymes respond to c-di-GMP levels

Under favorable living conditions, newborn bacteria begin to produce the signaling molecule – this starts the clock ticking. The initially low c-di-GMP level activates a first kinase. This activates the expression of over 100 genes, which drive the cell towards division and boost the production of c-di-GMP.

The resulting peak levels of c-di-GMP finally stimulate the last wheel of the machinery, also a kinase. “With this step, the cell ultimately decides to replicate its DNA and to trigger cell division,” explains Jenal. “Simultaneously the over 100 genes are switched off again, as these are only important for the transition phase but obstruct later stages of proliferation.”

Insights into c-di-GMP mediated enzyme activation

In a parallel study, recently been published in PNAS, a team led by Prof. Tilman Schirmer, also at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, describes how c-di-GMP activates the first cogwheel of the newly discovered clock at the atomic level.

The researchers have revealed that the mobile domains of the kinase are initially locked in a fixed position. The binding of c-di-GMP liberates the domains, thereby activating the kinase for gene expression. “In our study, we have discovered a new mode of c-di-GMP mediated activation,” says Schirmer. “Once again, we are fascinated by the diverse ʻstrategiesʼ of this small molecule to regulate biochemical processes.”

Universal principle in bacterial reproduction

The c-di-GMP regulated timing of the bacterial cell cycle by this signaling molecule seems to be a universal mechanism. The researchers assume that this mechanism enables bacteria to precisely coordinate growth and development. The elucidation of this novel mechanism also contributes to a better understanding of the growth of bacterial pathogens.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Urs Jenal, University of Basel, Biozentrum, tel. +41 61 207 21 35, email: urs.jenal@unibas.ch

Prof. Dr. Tilman Schirmer, University of Basel, Biozentrum, tel. +41 61 207 20 89, email: tilman.schirmer@unibas.ch

Originalpublikation:

Andreas Kaczmarczyk, Antje M. Hempel, Christoph von Arx, Raphael Böhm, Badri N. Dubey, Jutta Nesper, Tilman Schirmer, Sebastian Hiller and Urs Jenal
Precise timing of transcription by c-di-GMP coordinates cell cycle and morphogenesis in Caulobacter
Nature Communications (2020), doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-14585-6
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-14585-6

Badri N. Dubey, Elia Agustoni, Raphael Böhm, Andreas Kaczmarczyk, Francesca Mangia, Christoph von Arx, Urs Jenal, Sebastian Hiller, Iván Plaza-Menacho, and Tilman Schirmer
Hybrid histidine kinase activation by cyclic di-GMP–mediated domain liberation
PNAS (2020), doi: 10.1073/pnas.1911427117
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1911427117

Dr. Katrin Bühler | Universität Basel

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Colorectal cancer: Increased life expectancy thanks to individualised therapies
20.02.2020 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Sweet beaks: What Galapagos finches and marine bacteria have in common
20.02.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Active droplets

21.02.2020 | Medical Engineering

Finding new clues to brain cancer treatment

21.02.2020 | Health and Medicine

Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past

21.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>