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iScience. 2019 Jun 28;16:378-389. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.05.044. Epub 2019 Jun 5.

Electrical Polarization Enables Integrative Quality Control during Bacterial Differentiation into Spores.

Author information

1
School of Life Sciences, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.
2
School of Life Sciences, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; Warwick Medical School, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.
3
Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08003 Barcelona, Spain.
4
School of Life Sciences, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; Bio-electrical Engineering Innovation Hub, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. Electronic address: m.asally@warwick.ac.uk.

Abstract

Quality control of offspring is important for the survival of cells. However, the mechanisms by which quality of offspring cells may be checked while running genetic programs of cellular differentiation remain unclear. Here we investigated quality control during sporulating in Bacillus subtilis by combining single-cell time-lapse microscopy, molecular biology, and mathematical modeling. Our results revealed that the quality control via premature germination is coupled with the electrical polarization of outer membranes of developing forespores. The forespores that accumulate fewer cations on their surface are more likely to be aborted. This charge accumulation enables the projection of multi-dimensional information about the external environment and morphological development of the forespore into one-dimensional information of cation accumulation. We thus present a paradigm of cellular regulation by bacterial electrical signaling. Moreover, based on the insight we gain, we propose an electrophysiology-based approach of reducing the yield and quality of Bacillus endospores.

KEYWORDS:

Bioinformatics; Mathematical Biosciences; Microbial Physiology; Microbiology

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