Each living cell grows and divides, thus generating new offspring. This process is also known as the cell cycle. Strictly speaking, it describes a periodic repetition of two coordinated cycles: the duplication of a cell's genetic information on the one hand and cell division on the other. Although the cell cycle in plant and animal cells has been elucidated quite precisely in the past decades, it has remained unclear how these two processes are coordinated in bacteria.
Although it is natural to think that the cell cycle begins with the birth of the cell and ends with the next cell division, the new research argues for a major shift in this concept. Their findings show that, in bacteria, the cell cycle starts and ends with the initiation of DNA replication, with the cell division event occurring between two DNA replication events.
Researchers - Prof - Erik - Van - Nimwegen
The researchers, led by Prof. Erik van Nimwegen at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, used a highly interdisciplinary approach combining microfluidics, automated time-lapse microscopy, sophisticated image analysis, and computational modeling. They observed the behavior of individual E. coli cells over long periods of time and systematically quantified multiple variables describing growth, cell division and DNA replication for thousands of cell cycles in several growth conditions. Computational modelling was then applied to this data to uncover the control mechanisms of the cell cycle.
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