In order to migrate over large distances, cells within tissues and organisms rely on sensing local gradient cues which are irregular, conflicting, and changing over time and space. The mechanism how they generate persistent directional migration when signals are disrupted, while still remaining adaptive to signal's localization changes remain unknown. Here we find that single cells utilize a molecular mechanism akin to a working memory to satisfy these two opposing demands. We derive theoretically that this is characteristic for receptor networks maintained away from steady states. Time-resolved live-cell imaging of Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) phosphorylation dynamics shows that cells transiently memorize position of encountered signals via slow-escaping remnant of the polarized signaling state, a dynamical 'ghost', driving memory-guided persistent directional migration. The metastability of this state further enables migrational adaptation when encountering new signals. We thus identify basic mechanism of real-time computations underlying cellular navigation in changing chemoattractant fields.
Source data is provided with the submission. The numerical data used to generate the corresponding figures can be obtained from the codes deposited in https://github.com/akhileshpnn/Cell-memory.
- Aneta Koseska
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Arvind Murugan, University of Chicago, United States
- Received: January 6, 2022
- Accepted: June 3, 2022
- Accepted Manuscript published: June 6, 2022 (version 1)
© 2022, Nandan 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.
Phenotypic variations between individual microbial cells play a key role in the resistance of microbial pathogens to pharmacotherapies. Nevertheless, little is known about cell individuality in antibiotic accumulation. Here, we hypothesise that phenotypic diversification can be driven by fundamental cell-to-cell differences in drug transport rates. To test this hypothesis, we employed microfluidics-based single-cell microscopy, libraries of fluorescent antibiotic probes and mathematical modelling. This approach allowed us to rapidly identify phenotypic variants that avoid antibiotic accumulation within populations of Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Burkholderia cenocepacia, and Staphylococcus aureus. Crucially, we found that fast growing phenotypic variants avoid macrolide accumulation and survive treatment without genetic mutations. These findings are in contrast with the current consensus that cellular dormancy and slow metabolism underlie bacterial survival to antibiotics. Our results also show that fast growing variants display significantly higher expression of ribosomal promoters before drug treatment compared to slow growing variants. Drug-free active ribosomes facilitate essential cellular processes in these fast-growing variants, including efflux that can reduce macrolide accumulation. We used this new knowledge to eradicate variants that displayed low antibiotic accumulation through the chemical manipulation of their outer membrane inspiring new avenues to overcome current antibiotic treatment failures.
We report the real-time response of E. coli to lactoferricin-derived antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) on length-scales bridging microscopic cell-sizes to nanoscopic lipid packing using millisecond time-resolved synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering. Coupling a multi-scale scattering data analysis to biophysical assays for peptide partitioning revealed that the AMPs rapidly permeabilize the cytosolic membrane within less than three seconds-much faster than previously considered. Final intracellular AMP concentrations of ~ 80 to 100 mM suggest an efficient obstruction of physiologically important processes as primary cause for bacterial killing. On the other hand, damage of the cell envelope and leakage occurred also at sublethal peptide concentrations, thus emerging as a collateral effect of AMP activity that does not kill the bacteria. This implies that the impairment of the membrane barrier is a necessary but not sufficient condition for microbial killing by lactoferricins. The most efficient AMP studied exceeds others in both speed of permeabilizing membranes and lowest intracellular peptide concentration needed to inhibit bacterial growth.