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MiS Preprint Repository

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MiS Preprint
26/2005

Making waves: Pattern formation by a cell surface-associated signal

Angela Stevens and Lotte Sogaard-Andersen

Abstract

Starving Myxococcus xanthus cells organise into two strikingly different spatio-temporal patterns: rippling or aggregation of cells into fruiting bodies. Formation of both patterns depends on a cell surface-associated, non-diffusible signal, the C-signal. A key motility parameter modulated by the C-signal during pattern formation is the frequency at which cells reverse their gliding direction, with low and high levels of C-signalling causing an increase and a decrease in the reversal frequency, respectively. Recently, a simple yet elegant mathematical model was proposed to explain the mechanism underlying the non-linear dependence of the reversal frequency on C-signalling levels. The mathematical solution hinges on the introduction of a negative feedback loop into the biochemical circuit that regulates the reversal frequency. This system displays an oscillatory behaviour in which the oscillation frequency depends in a non-monotonic manner on the level of C-signalling. Thus, the biochemical oscillator recapitulates the effect of the C-signal on the reversal frequency. The challenge for biologists is now to test the mathematical model experimentally.

Received:
Apr 6, 2005
Published:
Apr 6, 2005
Keywords:
biological oscillations, pattern formation, negative feedback, mathematical modelling, intercellular signalling, chemosensory systems, myxococcus xanthus, gliding motility

Related publications

inJournal
2005 Repository Open Access
Angela Stevens and L Sogaard-Andersen

Making waves : pattern formation by a cell-surface-associated signal

In: Trends in microbiology, 13 (2005) 6, pp. 249-252