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 Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel
06.08.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht Tellurium makes the difference
06.08.2020 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>