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Cell. 2006 Mar 10;124(5):1025-37.

Bacterial birth scar proteins mark future flagellum assembly site.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Many prokaryotic protein complexes underlie polar asymmetry. In Caulobacter crescentus, a flagellum is built exclusively at the pole that arose from the previous cell division. The basis for this pole specificity is unclear but could involve a cytokinetic birth scar that marks the newborn pole as the flagellum assembly site. We identified two developmental proteins, TipN and TipF, which localize to the division septum and the newborn pole after division. We show that septal localization of TipN/F depends on cytokinesis. Moreover, TipF, a c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase homolog, is a flagellum assembly factor that relies on TipN for proper positioning. In the absence of TipN, flagella are assembled at ectopic locations, and TipF is mislocalized to such sites. Thus TipN and TipF establish a link between bacterial cytokinesis and polar asymmetry, demonstrating that division does indeed leave a positional mark in its wake to direct the biogenesis of a polar organelle.

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