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martes, 27 de octubre de 2009

Metabolism, cell growth and the bacterial cell cycle

The life of a bacterial cell is feast or famine. To survive the bacterium must rapidly adapt to changing environmental conditions. Colonization of the mammalian gut provides an enteric organism with an abundant source of carbohydrates, whereas a flash flood instantly depletes the nutrient supply for a soil bacterium. Nutrient-rich conditions lead to a decrease in mass doubling time and an increase in cell size, whereas nutrient-poor conditions curtail growth and reduce cell size. Changes in growth rate must be accompanied by changes in the cell cycle to ensure that cell division stays coordinated with mass doubling, chromosome replication and chromosome segregation. How organisms adjust their cell cycle dynamics to compensate for changes in nutritional conditions is an important outstanding question in bacterial physiology. Recent work suggests that multiple signalling pathways transmit nutritional and growth rate information directly to the cell cycle machinery. Multiple signalling pathways permit cells to constantly sample their environments and fine-tune cell cycle processes, a substantial advantage under challenging conditions.
Adaptation to fluctuations in nutrient availability is a fact of life for single-celled organisms in the ‘wild’. A decade ago our understanding of how bacteria adjust cell cycle parameters to accommodate changes in nutrient availability stemmed almost entirely from elegant physiological studies completed in the 1960s. This article summarizes recent groundbreaking work in this area and discuss potential mechanisms by which nutrient availability and metabolic status are coordinated with cell growth, chromosome replication and cell division.
Metabolism, cell growth and the bacterial cell cycle. Nature Reviews Microbiology 7, 822 (2009)
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