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Concerted control of Escherichia coli cell division

Osella, Matteo, Nugent, Eileen, Cosentino Lagomarsino, Marco
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2014 v.111 no.9 pp. 3431-3435
Escherichia coli, cell division, cell growth, data collection, models, stochastic processes
The coordination of cell growth and division is a long-standing problem in biology. Focusing on Escherichia coli in steady growth, we quantify cell division control using a stochastic model, by inferring the division rate as a function of the observable parameters from large empirical datasets of dividing cells. We find that (i) cells have mechanisms to control their size, (ii) size control is effected by changes in the doubling time, rather than in the single-cell elongation rate, (iii) the division rate increases steeply with cell size for small cells, and saturates for larger cells. Importantly, (iv) the current size is not the only variable controlling cell division, but the time spent in the cell cycle appears to play a role, and (v) common tests of cell size control may fail when such concerted control is in place. Our analysis illustrates the mechanisms of cell division control in E. coli . The phenomenological framework presented is sufficiently general to be widely applicable and opens the way for rigorous tests of molecular cell-cycle models.