Stochastic Pulse Regulation in Bacterial Stress Response
ABSTRACT Gene regulatory circuits can use dynamic, and even stochastic, strategies to respond to environmental conditions. We examined activation of the general stress response mediated by the alternative sigma factor, σ(B), in individual Bacillus subtilis cells. We observed that energy stress activates σ(B) in discrete stochastic pulses, with increasing levels of stress leading to higher pulse frequencies. By perturbing and rewiring the endogenous system, we found that this behavior results from three key features of the σ(B) circuit: an ultrasensitive phosphorylation switch; stochasticity ("noise"), which activates that switch; and a mixed (positive and negative) transcriptional feedback, which can both amplify a pulse and switch it off. Together, these results show how prokaryotes encode signals using stochastic pulse frequency modulation through a compact regulatory architecture.
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- "The combination of positive and negative feedback regulation provides a mechanism to regulate the strength and duration of a response  (Fig. 1E). For instance, the Bacillus subtilis energy stress response involving the alternative sigma factor B is temporally modulated by stochastic pulses of gene activation with the strength of the response controlled by the frequency, not the magnitude of the pulses . Stochastic fluctuations in the concentration of a phosphatase serve as the pulse trigger. "
ABSTRACT: DNA repair safeguards the genome against a diversity of DNA damaging agents. Although the mechanisms of many repair proteins have been examined separately in vitro, far less is known about the coordinated function of the whole repair machinery in vivo. Furthermore, single-cell studies indicate that DNA damage responses generate substantial variation in repair activities across cells. This review focuses on fluorescence imaging methods that offer a quantitative description of DNA repair in single cells by measuring protein concentrations, diffusion characteristics, localizations, interactions, and enzymatic rates. Emerging single-molecule and super-resolution microscopy methods now permit direct visualization of individual proteins and DNA repair events in vivo. We expect much can be learned about the organization of DNA repair by linking cell heterogeneity to mechanistic observations at the molecular level.DNA repair 08/2014; 20(100). DOI:10.1016/j.dnarep.2014.02.015 · 3.36 Impact Factor
Frontiers in Genetics 04/2013; 4:68. DOI:10.3389/fgene.2013.00068
- "That is, although B. subtilis can exist in bistable states under nutrient-limited conditions, the phenotypic heterogeneity observed in the population can be controlled by the level of randomness in single cell dynamics. Other works controlling different components of the comK transcriptional machinery have revealed the importance of noise at different scales in the heterogeneous behavior of B. subtilis (Süel et al., 2006; Locke et al., 2011). "
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ABSTRACT: Optical microscopy of single bacteria growing on solid agarose support is a powerful method for studying the natural heterogeneity in growth and gene expression. While the material properties of agarose make it an excellent substrate for such studies, the sheer number of exponentially growing cells eventually overwhelms the agarose pad, which fundamentally limits the duration and the throughput of measurements. Here we overcome the limitations of exponential growth by patterning agarose pads on the sub-micron-scale. Linear tracks constrain the growth of bacteria into a high density array of linear micro-colonies. Buffer flow through microfluidic lines washes away excess cells and delivers fresh nutrient buffer. Densely patterned tracks allow us to cultivate and image hundreds of thousands of cells on a single agarose pad over 30-40 generations, which drastically increases single-cell measurement throughput. In addition, we show that patterned agarose can facilitate single-cell measurements within bacterial communities. As a proof-of-principle, we study a community of E. coli auxotrophs that can complement the amino acid deficiencies of one another. We find that the growth rate of colonies of one strain decreases sharply with the distance to colonies of the complementary strain over distances of only a few cell lengths. Because patterned agarose pads maintain cells in a chemostatic environment in which every cell can be imaged, we term our device the single-cell chemostat. High-throughput measurements of single cells growing chemostatically should greatly facilitate the study of a variety of microbial behaviours.Lab on a Chip 03/2012; 12(8):1487-94. DOI:10.1039/c2lc00009a · 5.75 Impact Factor