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Science. 2015 May 1;348(6234):574-8. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa1511.

Bacterial division. Mechanical crack propagation drives millisecond daughter cell separation in Staphylococcus aureus.

Author information

1
Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
2
Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
3
Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
4
Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
5
Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
6
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
7
Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. theriot@stanford.edu.

Abstract

When Staphylococcus aureus undergoes cytokinesis, it builds a septum, generating two hemispherical daughters whose cell walls are only connected via a narrow peripheral ring. We found that resolution of this ring occurred within milliseconds ("popping"), without detectable changes in cell volume. The likelihood of popping depended on cell-wall stress, and the separating cells split open asymmetrically, leaving the daughters connected by a hinge. An elastostatic model of the wall indicated high circumferential stress in the peripheral ring before popping. Last, we observed small perforations in the peripheral ring that are likely initial points of mechanical failure. Thus, the ultrafast daughter cell separation in S. aureus appears to be driven by accumulation of stress in the peripheral ring and exhibits hallmarks of mechanical crack propagation.

PMID:
25931560
PMCID:
PMC4864021
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaa1511
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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