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Trends Genet. 2003 Feb;19(2):107-12.

Transient genetic asymmetry and cell fate in a bacterium.

Author information

  • Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, The Biological Laboratories, 16 Divinity Avenue, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. dworkin@mcb.harvard.edu


Certain species of Gram-positive bacteria can initiate a developmental program that results in the formation of two daughter cells with different fates. One cell develops into a spore and the other cell undergoes programmed lysis, with each process being mediated by a cascade of cell-type-specific transcription factors. An early and critical step in this developmental pathway is the formation of a division septum near one pole, creating two compartments of different sizes. But how is this morphological asymmetry translated into the transcriptional asymmetry of the two compartments? Recent results suggest that the chromosomal position of the genes encoding several key components of the transcriptional regulatory network has an important role in this process.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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