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Phenotypic bistability in Escherichia coli's central carbon metabolism


Kotte, Oliver; Volkmer, Benjamin; Radzikowski, Jakub L; Heinemann, Matthias (2014). Phenotypic bistability in Escherichia coli's central carbon metabolism. Molecular Systems Biology, 10:736.

Abstract

Fluctuations in intracellular molecule abundance can lead to distinct, coexisting phenotypes in isogenic populations. Although metabolism continuously adapts to unpredictable environmental changes, and although bistability was found in certain substrate-uptake pathways, central carbon metabolism is thought to operate deterministically. Here, we combine experiment and theory to demonstrate that a clonal Escherichia coli population splits into two stochastically generated phenotypic subpopulations after glucose-gluconeogenic substrate shifts. Most cells refrain from growth, entering a dormant persister state that manifests as a lag phase in the population growth curve. The subpopulation-generating mechanism resides at the metabolic core, overarches the metabolic and transcriptional networks, and only allows the growth of cells initially achieving sufficiently high gluconeogenic flux. Thus, central metabolism does not ensure the gluconeogenic growth of individual cells, but uses a population-level adaptation resulting in responsive diversification upon nutrient changes.

Abstract

Fluctuations in intracellular molecule abundance can lead to distinct, coexisting phenotypes in isogenic populations. Although metabolism continuously adapts to unpredictable environmental changes, and although bistability was found in certain substrate-uptake pathways, central carbon metabolism is thought to operate deterministically. Here, we combine experiment and theory to demonstrate that a clonal Escherichia coli population splits into two stochastically generated phenotypic subpopulations after glucose-gluconeogenic substrate shifts. Most cells refrain from growth, entering a dormant persister state that manifests as a lag phase in the population growth curve. The subpopulation-generating mechanism resides at the metabolic core, overarches the metabolic and transcriptional networks, and only allows the growth of cells initially achieving sufficiently high gluconeogenic flux. Thus, central metabolism does not ensure the gluconeogenic growth of individual cells, but uses a population-level adaptation resulting in responsive diversification upon nutrient changes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:12 Feb 2015 13:38
Last Modified:14 Feb 2018 22:45
Publisher:European Molecular Biology Organization
ISSN:1744-4292
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.15252/msb.20135022
PubMed ID:24987115

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