DOI: 10.1101/487504Dec 4, 2018Paper

Exponential trajectories, cell size fluctuations and the adder property in bacteria follow from simple chemical dynamics and division control

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Parth Pratim PandeySanjay Jain


Experiments on steady state bacterial cultures have uncovered several quantitative regularities at the system level. These include, first, the exponential growth of cell size with time and the balanced growth of intracellular chemicals between cell birth and division, which are puzzling given the nonlinear and decentralized chemical dynamics in the cell. We model a cell as a set of chemical populations undergoing nonlinear mass action kinetics in a container whose volume is a linear function of the chemical populations. This turns out to be a special class of dynamical system that generically has attractors in which all populations grow exponentially with time at the same rate. This explains exponential balanced growth of bacterial cells without invoking any regulatory mechanisms and suggests that this could be a robust property of protocells as well. Second, we consider the hypothesis that cells commit themselves to division when a certain internal chemical population reaches a threshold of N molecules. We show that this hypothesis leads to a simple explanation of some of the variability observed across cells in a bacterial culture. In particular it reproduces the adder property of cell size fluctuations observed recently in E...Continue Reading

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