Metabolic constraints drive self-organization of specialized cell groups
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.
All data in this study are generated by computational simulations. All model parameters and equations are included in the manuscript and source code is included with this submission.
Article and author information
Wellcome Trust - DBT India Alliance (IA/I/14/2/501523)
- Sunil Laxman
- Vaibhhav Sinha
- Sandeep Krishna
Wellcome Trust - DBT India Alliance (IA/E/16/1/502996)
- 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
- Received: March 11, 2019
- Accepted: June 19, 2019
- Accepted Manuscript published: June 26, 2019 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: July 25, 2019 (version 2)
- Version of Record updated: December 17, 2020 (version 3)
© 2019, Varahan et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
- Page views
Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, PubMed Central, Scopus.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Cite this article (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
- Cell Biology
Caenorhabditis elegans neurons under stress can produce giant vesicles, several microns in diameter, called exophers. Current models suggest that exophers are neuroprotective, providing a mechanism for stressed neurons to eject toxic protein aggregates and organelles. However, little is known of the fate of the exopher once it leaves the neuron. We found that exophers produced by mechanosensory neurons in C. elegans are engulfed by surrounding hypodermal skin cells and are then broken up into numerous smaller vesicles that acquire hypodermal phagosome maturation markers, with vesicular contents gradually degraded by hypodermal lysosomes. Consistent with the hypodermis acting as an exopher phagocyte, we found that exopher removal requires hypodermal actin and Arp2/3, and the hypodermal plasma membrane adjacent to newly formed exophers accumulates dynamic F-actin during budding. Efficient fission of engulfed exopher-phagosomes to produce smaller vesicles and degrade their contents requires phagosome maturation factors SAND-1/Mon1, GTPase RAB-35, the CNT-1 ARF-GAP, and microtubule motor-associated GTPase ARL-8, suggesting a close coupling of phagosome fission and phagosome maturation. Lysosome activity was required to degrade exopher contents in the hypodermis but not for exopher-phagosome resolution into smaller vesicles. Importantly, we found that GTPase ARF-6 and effector SEC-10/exocyst activity in the hypodermis, along with the CED-1 phagocytic receptor, is required for efficient production of exophers by the neuron. Our results indicate that the neuron requires specific interaction with the phagocyte for an efficient exopher response, a mechanistic feature potentially conserved with mammalian exophergenesis, and similar to neuronal pruning by phagocytic glia that influences neurodegenerative disease.