The spatial patterning of proteins in bacteria plays an important role in many processes, from cell division to chemotaxis. In the asymmetrically dividing bacteria Caulobacter crescentus, a scaffolding protein, PopZ, localizes to both poles and aids the differential patterning of proteins between mother and daughter cells during division. Polar patterning of misfolded proteins in Escherichia coli has also been shown, and likely plays an important role in cellular ageing. Recent experiments on both of the above systems suggest that the presence of chromosome free regions along with protein multimerization may be a mechanism for driving the polar localization of proteins. We have developed a simple physical model for protein localization using only these two driving mechanisms. Our model reproduces all the observed patterns of PopZ and misfolded protein localization--from diffuse, unipolar, and bipolar patterns and can also account for the observed patterns in a variety of mutants. The model also suggests new experiments to further test the role of the chromosome in driving protein patterning, and whether such a mechanism is responsible for helping to drive the differentiation of the cell poles.
Saberi, S., & Emberly, E. (2010). Chromosome driven spatial patterning of proteins in bacteria. PLoS Computational Biology, 6(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000986