PNAS | October 28, 2003 | vol. 100 | no. 22 | 12724-12728

Dynamic structures in Escherichia coli: Spontaneous formation of MinE rings and MinD polar zones

Kerwyn Casey Huang*{dagger} {ddagger} , Yigal Meir{dagger} and Ned S. Wingreen{dagger}

* Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 12-111, Cambridge, MA 02139; {dagger} NEC Laboratories America, Incorporated, 4 Independence Way, Princeton, NJ 08540; and Department of Physics, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel

Communicated by Sydney Kustu, University of California, Berkeley, CA, August 25, 2003 (received for review June 26, 2003)

In Escherichia coli, division site selection is regulated in part by the Min-protein system. Oscillations of the Min proteins from pole to pole every {approx} 40 sec have been revealed by in vivo studies of GFP fusions. The dynamic oscillatory structures produced by the Min proteins, including a ring of MinE protein, compact polar zones of MinD, and zebra-striped oscillations in filamentous cells, remain unexplained. We show that the Min oscillations, including mutant phenotypes, can be accounted for by in vitro-observed interactions involving MinD and MinE, with a crucial role played by the rate of nucleotide exchange. Recent discoveries suggest that protein oscillations may play a general role in proper chromosome and plasmid partitioning.

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