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Mol Microbiol. 2008 Jul;69(1):5-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06240.x. Epub 2008 May 12.

Looking inside the box: bacterial transistor arrays.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


One often compares cells to computers, and signalling proteins to transistors. Location and wiring of those molecular transistors is paramount in defining the function of the subcellular chips. The bacterial chemotactic sensing apparatus is a large, stable assembly consisting of thousands of receptors, signal transducing kinases and linking proteins, and is responsible for the motile response of the bacterium to environmental signals, whether chemical, mechanical, or thermal. Because of its rich functional repertoire despite its relative simplicity, this chemosome has attracted much attention from both experimentalists and theoreticians, and the bacterial chemotaxis response becoming a benchmark in Systems Biology. Structural and functional models of the chemotactic device have been developed, often based on particular assumptions regarding the topology of the receptor lattice. In this issue of Molecular Microbiology, Briegel et al. provide a detailed view of the receptor arrangement, unravelling the wiring of the molecular signal processors.

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