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Bergeler, Silke; Frey, Erwin (2018): Regulation of Pom cluster dynamics in Myxococcus xanthus.
In: PLOS Computational Biology 14(8), e1006358
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Precise positioning of the cell division site is essential for the correct segregation of the genetic material into the two daughter cells. In the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus, the proteins PomX and PomY form a cluster on the chromosome that performs a biased random walk to midcell and positively regulates cell division there. PomZ, an ATPase, is necessary for tethering of the cluster to the nucleoid and regulates its movement towards midcell. It has remained unclear how the cluster dynamics change when the biochemical parameters, such as the attachment rates of PomZ dimers to the nucleoid and the cluster, the ATP hydrolysis rate of PomZ or the mobility of PomZ interacting with the nucleoid and cluster, are varied. To answer these questions, we investigate a one-dimensional model that includes the nucleoid, the Pom cluster and PomZ proteins. We find that a mechanism based on the diffusive PomZ fluxes on the nucleoid into the cluster can explain the latter's midnucleoid localization for a broad parameter range. Furthermore, there is an ATP hydrolysis rate that minimizes the time the cluster needs to reach midnucleoid. If the dynamics of PomZ on the nucleoid is slow relative to the cluster's velocity, we observe oscillatory cluster movements around midnucleoid. To understand midnucleoid localization, we developed a semi-analytical approach that dissects the net movement of the cluster into its components: the difference in PomZ fluxes into the cluster from either side, the force exerted by a single PomZ dimer on the cluster and the effective friction coefficient of the cluster. Importantly, we predict that the Pom cluster oscillates around midnucleoid if the diffusivity of PomZ on the nucleoid is reduced. A similar approach to that applied here may also prove useful for cargo localization in ParABS systems.