Quantitative study of the effects of low DnaA concentrations in Escherichia coli, using the uhp pathway as an inducible expression system

Abstract : The DnaA protein, or a homologue, is present in most living organisms because it plays a key role for DNA replication. In Escherichia coli, the expression of DnaA, the central initiator of DNA replication, is therefore tightly regulated. Previous studies have shown that a large overexpression of this protein leads to a decrease in cell viability, while its absence induces the arrest of cell division. Even though these extreme conditions are well studied, the transition from division arrest to normal growth has not been quantitatively analyzed.We genetically engineered Escherichia coli to put the expression of RNA polymerase and the expression of DnaA under the control of two distinct, inducible systems. For the control of DnaA expression, we used a regulatory system already present in the cell, the uhp system. The promoter of the uhpT gene is induced via extracellular glucose-6-phosphate. We characterized the induction characteristics of this system and studied the biological phenomena triggered by varying concentrations of DnaA, using population measurements and single cell, time lapse microscopy of microcolonies or cells grown in a microfluidics device. The microscopy experiments reveal stochastic phenomena due to the low number of molecules of components of the induction system and of DnaA. Confronting population and single cell observations we are able to give a quantitative interpretation of the observed behavior. As a potential application of our control system, we explored the possibility of freezing cell division in order to turn the cell into a “bag of enzymes” for the biotechnological production of metabolites.
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Bernard Chelli Ponce de Leon. Quantitative study of the effects of low DnaA concentrations in Escherichia coli, using the uhp pathway as an inducible expression system. Biological Physics [physics.bio-ph]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAY017⟩. ⟨tel-01661435⟩

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