Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS Comput Biol. 2013;9(9):e1003221. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003221. Epub 2013 Sep 12.

Potential role of a bistable histidine kinase switch in the asymmetric division cycle of Caulobacter crescentus.

Author information

Graduate Program in Genetics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, United States of America.


The free-living aquatic bacterium, Caulobacter crescentus, exhibits two different morphologies during its life cycle. The morphological change from swarmer cell to stalked cell is a result of changes of function of two bi-functional histidine kinases, PleC and CckA. Here, we describe a detailed molecular mechanism by which the function of PleC changes between phosphatase and kinase state. By mathematical modeling of our proposed molecular interactions, we derive conditions under which PleC, CckA and its response regulators exhibit bistable behavior, thus providing a scenario for robust switching between swarmer and stalked states. Our simulations are in reasonable agreement with in vitro and in vivo experimental observations of wild type and mutant phenotypes. According to our model, the kinase form of PleC is essential for the swarmer-to-stalked transition and to prevent premature development of the swarmer pole. Based on our results, we reconcile some published experimental observations and suggest novel mutants to test our predictions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center