A Moonlighting Enzyme Links Escherichia coli Cell Size with Central Metabolism

Norbert S. Hill, Paul J. Buske, Yue Shi, Petra Anne Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Growth rate and nutrient availability are the primary determinants of size in single-celled organisms: rapidly growing Escherichia coli cells are more than twice as large as their slow growing counterparts. Here we report the identification of the glucosyltransferase OpgH as a nutrient-dependent regulator of E. coli cell size. During growth under nutrient-rich conditions, OpgH localizes to the nascent septal site, where it antagonizes assembly of the tubulin-like cell division protein FtsZ, delaying division and increasing cell size. Biochemical analysis is consistent with OpgH sequestering FtsZ from growing polymers. OpgH is functionally analogous to UgtP, a Bacillus subtilis glucosyltransferase that inhibits cell division in a growth rate-dependent fashion. In a striking example of convergent evolution, OpgH and UgtP share no homology, have distinct enzymatic activities, and appear to inhibit FtsZ assembly through different mechanisms. Comparative analysis of E. coli and B. subtilis reveals conserved aspects of growth rate regulation and cell size control that are likely to be broadly applicable. These include the conservation of uridine diphosphate glucose as a proxy for nutrient status and the use of moonlighting enzymes to couple growth rate-dependent phenomena to central metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1003663
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013


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