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Elife. 2015 Nov 2;4. pii: e11611. doi: 10.7554/eLife.11611.

Role of competition between polarity sites in establishing a unique front.

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Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, United States.
Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, United States.
Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.


Polarity establishment in many cells is thought to occur via positive feedback that reinforces even tiny asymmetries in polarity protein distribution. Cdc42 and related GTPases are activated and accumulate in a patch of the cortex that defines the front of the cell. Positive feedback enables spontaneous polarization triggered by stochastic fluctuations, but as such fluctuations can occur at multiple locations, how do cells ensure that they make only one front? In polarizing cells of the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, positive feedback can trigger growth of several Cdc42 clusters at the same time, but this multi-cluster stage rapidly evolves to a single-cluster state, which then promotes bud emergence. By manipulating polarity protein dynamics, we show that resolution of multi-cluster intermediates occurs through a greedy competition between clusters to recruit and retain polarity proteins from a shared intracellular pool.


Cdc42; S. cerevisiae; Turing model; cell biology; cell polarity

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