How phenotypically distinct states in isogenic cell populations appear and stably co-exist remains unresolved. We find that within a mature, clonal yeast colony developing in low glucose, cells arrange into metabolically disparate cell groups. Using this system, we model and experimentally identify metabolic constraints sufficient to drive such self-assembly. Beginning in a uniformly gluconeogenic state, cells exhibiting a contrary, high pentose phosphate pathway activity state, spontaneously appear and proliferate, in a spatially constrained manner. Gluconeogenic cells in the colony produce and provide a resource, which we identify as trehalose. Above threshold concentrations of external trehalose, cells switch to the new metabolic state and proliferate. A self-organized system establishes, where cells in this new state are sustained by trehalose consumption, which thereby restrains other cells in the trehalose producing, gluconeogenic state. Our work suggests simple physico-chemical principles that determine how isogenic cells spontaneously self-organize into structured assemblies in complimentary, specialized states.
- Sunil Laxman
- Vaibhhav Sinha
- Sandeep Krishna
- Sriram Varahan
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Kevin J Verstrepen, VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology, Belgium
© 2019, Varahan et al.
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