Article thumbnail

Relevant parameters in models of cell division control

By J. Grilli, M. Osella, A.S. Kennard and M. Cosentino Lagomarsino


A recent burst of dynamic single-cell data makes it possible to characterize the stochastic dynamics of cell division control in bacteria. Different models were used to propose specific mechanisms, but the links between them are poorly explored. The lack of comparative studies makes it difficult to appreciate how well any particular mechanism is supported by the data. Here, we describe a simple and generic framework in which two common formalisms can be used interchangeably: (i) a continuous-time division process described by a hazard function and (ii) a discrete-time equation describing cell size across generations (where the unit of time is a cell cycle). In our framework, this second process is a discrete-time Langevin equation with simple physical analogues. By perturbative expansion around the mean initial size (or interdivision time), we show how this framework describes a wide range of division control mechanisms, including combinations of time and size control, as well as the constant added size mechanism recently found to capture several aspects of the cell division behavior of different bacteria. As we show by analytical estimates and numerical simulations, the available data are described precisely by the first-order approximation of this expansion, i.e., by a "linear response" regime for the correction of size fluctuations. Hence, a single dimensionless parameter defines the strength and action of the division control against cell-to-cell variability (quantified by a single "noise" parameter). However, the same strength of linear response may emerge from several mechanisms, which are distinguished only by higher-order terms in the perturbative expansion. Our analytical estimate of the sample size needed to distinguish between second-order effects shows that this value is close to but larger than the values of the current datasets. These results provide a unified framework for future studies and clarify the relevant parameters at play in the control of cell division

Topics: Bacterial Physiological Phenomena, Cell Division, Computer Simulation, Models, Biological, Time Factors, Settore FIS/02 - Fisica Teorica, Modelli e Metodi Matematici, Settore BIO/11 - Biologia Molecolare, Settore FIS/07 - Fisica Applicata(Beni Culturali, Ambientali, Biol.e Medicin)
Publisher: 'American Physical Society (APS)'
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1103/PhysRevE.95.032411
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.