Protein concentration gradients pattern developing organisms and single cells. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe rod-shaped cells, Pom1 kinase forms gradients with maxima at cell poles. Pom1 controls the timing of mitotic entry by inhibiting Cdr2, which forms stable membrane-associated nodes at mid-cell. Pom1 gradients rely on membrane association regulated by a phosphorylation-dephosphorylation cycle and lateral diffusion modulated by clustering. Using quantitative PALM imaging, we find individual Pom1 molecules bind the membrane too transiently to diffuse from pole to mid-cell. Instead we propose they exchange within longer-lived clusters forming the functional gradient unit. An allelic series blocking auto-phosphorylation shows multi-phosphorylation shapes and buffers the gradient to control mid-cell levels, which represent the critical Cdr2-regulating pool. TIRF imaging of this cortical pool demonstrates more Pom1 overlaps with Cdr2 in short than long cells, consistent with Pom1 inhibition of Cdr2 decreasing with cell growth. Thus, the gradients modulate Pom1 mid-cell levels according to cell size.
- Suliana Manley
- Sophie G Martin
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Mohan K Balasubramanian, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
© 2019, Gerganova et al.
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