Cell division site placement and asymmetric growth in Mycobacteria

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Abstract

Mycobacteria are members of the actinomycetes that grow by tip extension and lack apparent homologues of the known cell division regulators found in other rod-shaped bacteria. Previous work using static microscopy on dividing mycobacteria led to the hypothesis that these cells can grow and divide asymmetrically, and at a wide range of sizes, in contrast to the cell growth and division patterns observed in the model rod-shaped organisms. In this study, we test this hypothesis using livecell time-lapse imaging of dividing Mycobacterium smegmatis labelled with fluorescent PBP1a, to probe peptidoglycan synthesis and label the cell septum. We demonstrate that the new septum is placed accurately at mid-cell, and that the asymmetric division observed is a result of differential growth from the cell tips, with a more than 2-fold difference in growth rate between fast and slow growing poles. We also show that the division site is not selected at a characteristic cell length, suggesting this is not an important cue during the mycobacterial cell cycle.

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Joyce, G., Williams, K. J., Robb, M., Noens, E., Tizzano, B., Shahrezaei, V., & Robertson, B. D. (2012). Cell division site placement and asymmetric growth in Mycobacteria. PLoS ONE, 7(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044582

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