108 Scopus citations

Abstract

In eukaryotes, DNA replication is coupled to the cell cycle through the actions of cyclin-dependent kinases and associated factors. In bacteria, the prevailing view, based primarily from work in Escherichia coli, is that growth-dependent accumulation of the highly conserved initiator, DnaA, triggers initiation. However, the timing of initiation is unchanged in Bacillus subtilis mutants that are ~30% smaller than wild-type cells, indicating that achievement of a particular cell size is not obligatory for initiation. Prompted by this finding, we re-examined the link between cell size and initiation in both E. coli and B. subtilis. Although changes in DNA replication have been shown to alter both E. coli and B. subtilis cell size, the converse (the effect of cell size on DNA replication) has not been explored. Here, we report that the mechanisms responsible for coordinating DNA replication with cell size vary between these two model organisms. In contrast to B. subtilis, small E. coli mutants delayed replication initiation until they achieved the size at which wild-type cells initiate. Modest increases in DnaA alleviated the delay, supporting the view that growth-dependent accumulation of DnaA is the trigger for replication initiation in E. coli. Significantly, although small E. coli and B. subtilis cells both maintained wild-type concentration of DnaA, only the E. coli mutants failed to initiate on time. Thus, rather than the concentration, the total amount of DnaA appears to be more important for initiation timing in E. coli. The difference in behavior of the two bacteria appears to lie in the mechanisms that control the activity of DnaA.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1002549
JournalPLoS genetics
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

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