Bacterial cell-size changes resulting from altering the relative expression of Min proteins

Harsh Vashistha, Joanna Jammal-Touma, Kulveer Singh, Yitzhak Rabin, Hanna Salman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The timing of cell division, and thus cell size in bacteria, is determined in part by the accumulation dynamics of the protein FtsZ, which forms the septal ring. FtsZ localization depends on membrane-associated Min proteins, which inhibit FtsZ binding to the cell pole membrane. Changes in the relative concentrations of Min proteins can disrupt FtsZ binding to the membrane, which in turn can delay cell division until a certain cell size is reached, in which the dynamics of Min proteins frees the cell membrane long enough to allow FtsZ ring formation. Here, we study the effect of Min proteins relative expression on the dynamics of FtsZ ring formation and cell size in individual Escherichia coli bacteria. Upon inducing overexpression of minE, cell size increases gradually to a new steady-state value. Concurrently, the time required to initiate FtsZ ring formation grows as the size approaches the new steady-state, at which point the ring formation initiates as early as before induction. These results highlight the contribution of Min proteins to cell size control, which may be partially responsible for the size fluctuations observed in bacterial populations, and may clarify how the size difference acquired during asymmetric cell division is offset.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5710
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2023

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