Comprehensive analysis of central carbon metabolism illuminates connections between nutrient availability, growth rate, and cell morphology in Escherichia coli

Corey S. Westfall, Petra Anne Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bacterial morphology is a complex trait that is highly sensitive to changes in the environment. For heterotrophic organisms, such as Escherichia coli, increases in nutrient levels are frequently accompanied by several-fold increases in both size and growth rate. Despite the dramatic nature of these changes, how alterations in nutrient availability translate into changes in growth and morphology remains a largely open question. To understand the signaling networks coupling nutrient availability with size and shape, we examined the impact of deletions in the entirety of non-essential central carbon metabolic genes on E. coli growth rate and cell size. Our data reveal the presence of multiple metabolic nodes that play important yet distinctive roles in dictating biosynthetic capacity and shaping cell morphology. Specifically, perturbations of acetyl-CoA metabolism impact cell size and division through changes in fatty acid synthesis. Additionally, we identify a genetic pathway linking glucose levels to cell width through the signaling molecule cyclic-AMP. Together our findings highlight a surprising diversity of factors and mechanisms contributing to growth potential and cell morphology, providing a foundation for further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1007205
JournalPLoS genetics
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018

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