1. Physics of Living Systems
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Design of biochemical pattern forming systems from minimal motifs

  1. Philipp Glock
  2. Fridtjof Brauns
  3. Jacob Halatek
  4. Erwin Frey  Is a corresponding author
  5. Petra Schwille  Is a corresponding author
  1. Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany
  2. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e48646 doi: 10.7554/eLife.48646

Abstract

Although molecular self-organization and pattern formation are key features of life, only very few pattern-forming biochemical systems have been identified that can be reconstituted and studied in vitro under defined conditions. A systematic understanding of the underlying mechanisms is often hampered by multiple interactions, conformational flexibility and other complex features of the pattern forming proteins. Because of its compositional simplicity of only two proteins and a membrane, the MinDE system from Escherichia coli has in the past years been invaluable for deciphering the mechanisms of spatiotemporal self-organization in cells. Here we explored the potential of reducing the complexity of this system even further, by identifying key functional motifs in the effector MinE that could be used to design pattern formation from scratch. In a combined approach of experiment and quantitative modeling, we show that starting from a minimal MinE-MinD interaction motif, pattern formation can be obtained by adding either dimerization or membrane-binding motifs. Moreover, we show that the pathways underlying pattern formation are recruitment-driven cytosolic cycling of MinE and recombination of membrane-bound MinE, and that these differ in their in vivo phenomenology.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Philipp Glock

    Department of Cellular and Molecular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0238-2634
  2. Fridtjof Brauns

    Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics and Center for NanoScience, Department of Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, München, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Jacob Halatek

    Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics and Center for NanoScience, Department of Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, München, Germany
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Erwin Frey

    Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics and Center for NanoScience, Department of Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, München, Germany
    For correspondence
    frey@lmu.de
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8792-3358
  5. Petra Schwille

    Department of Cellular and Molecular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany
    For correspondence
    schwille@biochem.mpg.de
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-6106-4847

Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (GRK2062)

  • Philipp Glock
  • Fridtjof Brauns
  • Erwin Frey
  • Petra Schwille

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Pierre Sens, Institut Curie, PSL Research University, CNRS, France

Publication history

  1. Received: May 21, 2019
  2. Accepted: November 6, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: November 26, 2019 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2019, Glock 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.

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