Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Concurrent processes set E. coli cell division

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Science Advances  07 Nov 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 11, eaau3324
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3324


A cell can divide only upon completion of chromosome segregation; otherwise, its daughters would lose genetic material. However, we do not know whether the partitioning of chromosomes is the key event for the decision to divide. We show how key trends in single-cell data reject the classic idea of replication-segregation as the rate-limiting process for cell division. Instead, the data agree with a model where two concurrent processes (setting replication initiation and interdivision time) set cell division on competing time scales. During each cell cycle, division is set by the slowest process (an “AND” gate). The concept of transitions between cell cycle stages as decisional processes integrating multiple inputs instead of cascading from orchestrated steps can affect the way we think of the cell cycle in general.

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